AfCFTA targets 30% trade growth, to create African Customs union – Anatogu
Francis Anatogu, the special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on public affairs, says effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will double intra-African trade which currently stands at 15 percent.
Speaking via Zoom at the recent public presentation of the Nigerian Logistics and Supply Chain Industry Report in Lagos, Anatogu, who doubles as the secretary of the national action committee on AfCFTA, said the global supply chain has been disrupted in recent years by the outbreak of COVID-19, Russia-Ukraine war and nationalistic trade policies.
According to him, African countries are now in a good position to take advantage of some of these disruptions to grow their supply chain industry.
He said, however, that irrespective of the attractive nature of opportunities presented by AfCFTA, there was still a need for significant investment and the availability of companies with high skills to take advantage of the opportunities.
“Implementing AfCFTA is a first step towards establishing a Customs Union that would make it possible for all goods produced, exported, and imported within African countries to attract the same import duties. This is a high level of regional integration and they are geared towards increasing intra-African trade,” Anatogu said.
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While noting that trade facilitation is critical to growing trade, Anatogu said there need to simplify the import and export processes by using automation at the ports and also automating the regulatory compliance process.
To develop the productive capacity to achieve $50 billion in exports through AfCFTA, he said, African countries have identified priority products and services; developed national AfCFTA strategies, and facilitated sub-national engagements to develop state AfCFTA strategies.
According to him, Africa has commenced SME aggregation and export facilitation programmes, and further initiated commercialisation of agricultural research findings projects.
He further said that African countries need to improve their trade infrastructure by completing deep seaports, particularly in Nigeria.
Earlier in his address, Obiora Madu, director-general of the African Centre for Supply Chain, said logistics and supply chain are critical to economic growth.
According to him, Nigeria was not competitive due to the lack of adequate hard and soft infrastructure to move commodities and goods from their places of production to markets where they are needed.
Madu said that Nigeria was losing huge sums annually to the absence of investment in cold-chain logistics.
“All across Africa, nearly 50 percent of agro produce that is perishable is lost. The quantity of agro produce that perish in Nigeria alone is mind-blowing. Nigeria was not able to take the first Covid-19 vaccine because we could not manage the temperature. Cold-chain is critical to economic development and we need professionals to manage it because it requires engineers and equipment to maintain the quality of the products,” he added.