BusinessDay

ACFTA: Nigeria needs manufacturing, competitive market to benefit from $2.3bn economy

As Nigeria joins other African countries to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) agreement, the country must deepen its manufacturing sector and integrate into competitive market to benefit from the opportunities inherent in the $2.3 billion economy provided by the agreement, stakeholders say.

 

Hassan Bello, executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) said at a recent transport lecture held in Lagos, that Nigeria needs to become a productive and manufacturing society to benefit from ACFTA.

Bello, who noted that ACFTA provides member countries with market with about 1.3 billion population and $2.3 billion economy, said that African countries like Nigeria needs to brace up for the competition and a free economy devoid of protectionism.

Noting that the current state of the nation’s transport sector would place the country in a disadvantageous position when the implementation of ACFTA begins, Bello pointed out that Nigeria needs to have an overall view of the world economy, and to see how it can integrate into the African economy in a competitive mode.

“Government is aware that the Nigerian transport environment is harsh as it is. The first thing is to realise that the sector is harsh and the government has realised this, and it is taking deliberate steps to make sure that the environment is less harsh,” he said.

According to him, Nigeria must rebuild its infrastructure to reduce cost of production and to give the nation an edge during the implementation of ACFTA agreement.

“We are exploring how Nigeria can fit into this and grow its economy based on trade, production, efficiency and infrastructure. We are talking about transport infrastructure and energy. These are two very important things that we have to concentrate on,” he said.

Mansur Ahmed, president of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), said in a different forum that it has become a necessity that government at all levels continue to work with the private sector to strengthen and deepen as well as broaden the manufacturing sector.

This, he said, has become more significant now that Nigeria with other 53 African countries, signed agreement to open up Africa in order to create a one strong market.

Mansur, who said the agreement may present some level of risks to some sectors of the economy, insisted that Nigeria’s manufacturing sector must rise up to the tremendous opportunities provided by AFCTA.

“Indeed, there are opportunities but we need to focus on what we need to do to tap from those opportunities. Nigeria is one of the few countries in Africa that has the building blocks to become a hub for manufacturing. It is my hope that members of MAN will rise up to these opportunities and that governments at all levels will collaborate with us in this crusade to ensure that in the next three years manufacturers will achieve their targets,” he said.

He further called on government to go beyond the signing of the agreement to consult with critical stakeholders and ensure to incorporate into the implementation process, the inputs of all stakeholders so as to provide opportunities for the Nigerian people and the economy.

AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE

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