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AfCFTA: Technical working c’ttee to drive implementation in Delta – NAC

Newly constituted Delta State technical working committee has a task to drive the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in the state, National Action Committee (NAC) on AfCFTA, has said.

Francis Anatogu, secretary, NAC on AfCFTA, who stated this, said it was expected of the state technical committee to educate Deltans on the African trade agreement and the opportunity it offers, especially with regards to the export of goods and services.

Anatogu, who spoke in an interview with BusinessDay in Asaba, shortly after the inauguration of the state technical committee, said the committee would align Delta export strategy (which is already in existence) with what Africa needs, and develop their products to export quality, scale-up production level and develop value chains around the state as it is not just about commodities but developing the value chains all the way to finished products.

According to him, such is critical because massive export is new to the people, especially with its associated challenges.

“It is because of these challenges that an initiative like AfCFTA was put in place,” he explained, adding that it is not about resolving the problems at once but taking the problems one by one and solving them.

Anatogu who doubles as executive assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on public sector described the AfCFTA as a long-term programme that must be run as a marathon. It is all about promoting trade and creating a single market for the production and trade of made-in-Africa products and services.

“It’s about bringing down the barriers. Trading within African countries would be similar to trading within one state and another in Nigeria. AfCFTA does that by removing import duties on products that we trade on within Africa. It does that by harmonising the standards, policies and regulations, especially for trade in services,” he said.

Read also: US govt to strengthen trade, investment ties with Africa in driving AfCFTA

Chief economic adviser to Delta State governor, Kingsley Emuh, also charged the committee members to work towards the realisation of the project. “As raw material producers, if there is no value addition to our products, we will end up paying more than five to 10 times the processed products we have here, ” he lamented.”

He urged the committee to work to birth the project in the state, create the structures, look at the bottlenecks and begin to address them just as he expressed satisfaction with the readiness of NAC to collaborate with Delta State.

Chairman of the technical working committee, Lucky Oghene-Omoru, also disclosed in an interview, that his team would galvanize all resources in the state through the MDAs in order to mobilise exporters and resources to produce for export.

Oghene-Omoru, who is also the director-general of Delta State Investment Development Agency (DIDA), assured, “We are going to look critically at production centres – agriculture, crafts, manufacturing, tourism, oil and gas, and all those activities that are going to make the state produce goods and services for export.”

We will also look at factors that make our economy competitive such as roads, electricity in such a way that we would have alternative sources of energy supply and transportation/rail as well as labour so that people would not just come here and take our jobs while we are watching.”

While describing Delta as a key state in Nigeria and destination centre, the DG said: “We need to put our house in order to create an enabling environment where business can be done. Government, he said, would drive the way and sensitise the people of the state.

Shimite Bello, the executive assistant to the governor on export initiative and coordinator for the UNIDO centre, in an interview, described the opportunity as a fantastic one for her.

Bello, who is also a member of the technical committee, said, one of the areas we are looking at is to export to the African continent, especially the ECOWAS sub-region.

“Now, with an intervention coming from a treaty the Federal Government had signed with some other ECOWAS countries, at least, I know we can sell to 30 out of the 55 we have in Africa. This makes my work easy,” said Bello.

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