Lagos -Mr Segun Awolowo, the Chief Executive of Nigerian Export Promotion Council ((NEPC), says Nigeria has huge potential to increase its exports to other African countries with the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).
Awolowo made the observation at the just concluded Ecobank Digital Series Virtual Africa Conference 2020.
He said that in Africa with a market of 1.2 billion people and combined GDP of $3 trillion, there would be huge potential for Nigeria to increase its export to Africa with the implementation of AfCTA.
According to him, most of Nigeria’s exports had been informal exports, but with platforms like Ecobank, it is going to be formal and add real value to the economy.
He said the export value of Nigeria to Africa totaled around $6.99 billon in 2018, but its export to the rest of the world totaled $45.92 billion.
Awolowo said that using the international trade center export’s tool, NEPC had identified areas of untapped potential for Nigeria in Africa such as fertilizer, ginger and sesame as these were what other African countries were buying.
“Nigeria must, and can, live in a world where it no longer sells oil.
“Nigeria is working on key game changers in infrastructure in order to achieve this, especially in the area of ease of transportation and also in the area of incentives, export expansion grant like pre-shipment incentives and export development fund, which serve to prepare, facilitate and support exporters to the global market,” he said.
Tei Konzi, the Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement in ECOWAS, said that 85 per cent of our products were going outside the continent and this must be changed.
Konzi, who was represented by Mr Kolawole Sofola, an Acting Director in ECOWAS, said: “We can bring these trade back to Africa and increase activity in the continent in agriculture, mining, amongst others.”
“We are yet to conclude our tariffs, but at the moment, ECOWAS trade more with outside countries than it does with African countries and this is why we are bent on making sure the AfCFTA succeeds”.
Konzi described AfCFTA as a comprehensive trade agreement that seek to create a single market for goods and services and free movement of persons through the progressive liberation of the market for goods and services.
He said that AfCFTA would also contribute to the movement of capital to facilitate investment and the foundation of continental customs union at a later stage.
Ade Adeyemi, the Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), reiterated that African countries must adopt a continent-wide approach to business and also focus on wealth creation to be relevant in the global value chain.
According to Ayeyemi for AfCFTA to become a reality there must be commitment and readiness for trade facilitation by the individual nations.
He advised that African governments must be unequivocally committed to the agreement and their preparedness as individual nations with their implementation strategies, commitment to free movement-signing and ratification of protocol on free movement of people.
Ayeyemi said that Ecobank was fully committed to Africa as the foremost Pan-African Bank to unequivocally support the implementation of AfCFTA, its readiness to use its unique pan-African platform to facilitate trade, payment and business and deployment of its strong Africa knowledge to support governments and businesses.
The Ecobank boss said: “no country is so poor that it has nothing to give and no country is so rich that it has nothing to receive. All of us must come together to become better.”
The Ecobank virtual Nigeria ‘Africa Trade Conference 2020’ was part of the Ecobank Digital Series efforts to showcase Ecobank’s unique intra-Africa trade solutions that enable settlements of international transactions and mitigation of payment risk, while providing regional solutions to exporters.