Stakeholders in the Nigerian transportation sector have identified efficient transportation system as a key element that would guarantee the competitiveness of the Nigerian private sector especially for trade in goods in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) market.
This was the central discussion at the ongoing workshop on ‘Nigeria – the Transportation Hub for Africa as part of the AfCFTA Nigeria Strategy Workshop Series II’ held virtually on 23rd November, 2020 by the National Action Committee on the AfCFTA.
The workshop, which will continue till Wednesday 25th November, 2020 was declared open by the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Yelwaji Katagum.
According to Ambassador Katagum: “For a country well-endowed in agricultural and natural resources, an efficient inter-modal transport infrastructure is a critical success requirement, as the ability of our companies to attract international business depends on time and cost to deliver goods during transit.”
Amb. Katakum, who observed that Nigeria must maximize the opportunities in the AfCFTA market for economic growth and job creation, added that: “we must promote local content across every segment of the logistics value chain. Some obvious opportunities include patronizing our locally manufactured automobiles and parts, increasing fleet ownership especially in the maritime space and growing our local share of logistics and transit-related services.”
The Minister, who tasked the stakeholders to explore the opportunities in the AfCFTA added that: “The role of transportation operators in defining efficient and effective arrangements on customs co-operation, trade facilitation and transit, should form part of the conversation not only to operationalize the AfCFTA agreement but to explore practices to reduce barriers and improve our competitiveness.”
Speaking, the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said that beyond preparations for the start of trade under AfCFTA in January, 2020: “Nigeria is investing massively in the Aviation sector in order to increase connectivity, facilitate trade and establish Nigeria as the aviation hub on the continent.” He added that the target is to raise aviation sector’s contribution to GDP to 5% by 2023.
On the Federal Government’s efforts at improving road infrastructure, Babatunde Raji Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing, represented by Engr. Uzo, Director, Highway Planning, said: “Roads connecting Nigeria to the rest of the continent are currently being worked on as Nigeria seeks to increase our interconnectivity across Africa.”
In his presentation, Aliyu Abubakar, the Director Trade, Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment said to maximize her share of benefits in the AfCFTA, Nigeria would leverage existing capacities across agriculture, industry and services, sustain drive to improve competitiveness and drive export expansion and diversification with a vision to grow the value of Nigeria’s export to US$100bn per annum by 2030. Abubakar, who was represented by Mr. Francis Anatogu, Secretary, National Action Committee on the AfCFTA, added that that logistics services is central to the attainment of Nigeria’s AfCFTA vision.
On the economic potential of the transportation sector, Ms. Funmi Folorunsho, the Private Sector AfCFTA Champion for Transportation and Secretary General, African Ship-owners Association, said: “Growing the capacity of the transportation sector can potentially boost Nigeria’s economy by nearly $5bn per annum.”
Giving the closing remarks, Mr. Anatogu, who is also the Special Assistant to the President on Public Matters, said: “Nigeria has an urgent need to diversify the economy as our dependence on oil export is responsible for the current state of things,” adding that the AfCFTA is an opportunity to achieve the quest for the economic diversification from oil which has been the mainstay of the economy for many years.
Other key speakers at the workshop include Onyejeli Vince, Associate Director/Market Lead, KPMG, Prof. Bamidele Badejo of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Dr Alban Igwe, Deputy National President, FCILT, Mr Temisan Omatseye, Dr Joshua A. Odeyemi, Director Transport Research and Intelligence, NITT-Zaria, Mrs Adefunke Adeyemi, Regional Director Africa, IATA, Prof. Adesoji Adesanya, Head, Environment and Physical Infrastructure Policy Department, NISER and Prof. Olukayode Oyesiku of Olabisi Onabanjo University among other speakers.
Details for participation at the workshop can be accessed via www.ngrafcfta.gov.ng and Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter: AfCFTANG