Chairman of the Conference Planning Committee of the ongoing 12th Annual Business Law Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL), Okey Egbuchu, said on Wednesday that the United
Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) was positive that intra-Africa trade would substantially enhance economic growth on the continent in the long.
This optimism, he said, is based on studies carried out by UNECA.
Egbuchu, who spoke at the opening ceremony and dinner of the conference at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, said it was for this reason that the commission had dedicated a session of the conference to educating the public.
He said the conference, which has the theme ‘Bringing Down the Barriers: The Law as a Vehicle for Intra-Africa Trade’, has provided a platform for further discussion on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which was signed by 44 African countries in March.
“For decades, Africa, hampered by bad leadership and a lack of cohesion, found itself lagging other continents in virtually all indices of development, notwithstanding its richness in natural resources and a young energetic population. Perhaps a vestige of colonial heritage, we found ourselves doing more business with other continents than within Africa,” Egbuchu said at the opening ceremony.
“We at the Council of NBA Section on Business Law knew that we had to focus our activities inwards, starting from the legal profession, Nigeria, and then Africa. This year, the spotlight is on Africa, hence the theme for the conference, ‘Bringing Down the Barriers: The Law as a Vehicle for Intra-Africa Trade.
“Africa had slowly but long been working on enhancing trade within, and this culminated in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement which most African countries endorsed in March 2018 under the controversy caused by the snub of the signing ceremony by the chief promoter of free trade in Africa, Nigeria, under pressure from various interest groups. The Federal Government decided to consult more with stakeholders and we have provided a platform at this conference for the continuous stakeholder consultation,” he said.
Over the years, the annual NBA-SBL conference has continued to be a platform for business lawyers within and outside Nigeria to network and engage on issues relevant to their fields as well as to establish a thriving relationship between the business community and government institutions.