AFCTA: Organised Private Sector urges FG to prioritise matchmaking Nigeria-other African businesses for wealth creation

With the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement underway, some members of the Organised Private Sector, (OPS) are calling on the Nigerian government to prioritise matchmaking Nigerian businesses with other African countries to widen opportunities for wealth creation and jobs in various sectors of the economy.

Some of the members who spoke to BusinessDay said the government needs to give the needed push by engaging knowledgeable ‘focal persons’ who would initiate, sustain discussions with different continental economic blocs in tapping into areas of strengths and creating more opportunities for economic growth.

“There is a lot of industrial and manufacturing opportunities in North Africa. I expect the government to designate focal persons to engage regional trade blocs in North, East, Central and Southern Africa and look at possible businesses, trade that could be collaborated upon to create opportunities for our people for wealth creation,” Adetokumbo Kayode, former federal cabinet minister and a former President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce told BusinessDay.

To make the most of the free trade agreement, Kayode said Government must allow the private sector to drive trade and business. and that Africa’s largest economy also need to have a clear focus on how to go about having a focal contact point in East, North, Central and Southern Africa to expand trade.

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According to him, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, have a strong industrial base and are close to Europe and have been looking for an opportunity to enter into the Sub-Saharan market, and this is the right time to tap into the opportunities to matchmake industries while enhancing trade facilitation.

The aforementioned countries, according to Kayode are areas he expects the government to look at focal persons in sectoral and country based to connect trade. “Bring in the private sector and work with them and target sectoral business in various African regional blocs,” he said.

Hammering on the need to tap into opportunities from the various value chains under the free trade agreement to create jobs, some analysts have argued that the real deal in the African Continental Free Trade Area lies in marketing, distribution, services, technology, and manufacturing.

“The real deal is in the trade in goods, and we must be prepared to tap into opportunities contained in the various value chain for job creation. The trade pact must offer us a solution to the rising concern of unemployment.” Isah Aremu, Vice President, Industrial Trade Unions said.

According to Chijioke Ekechukwu, former director-general of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and an Economist, the government must take a step further in exploring opportunities in the competitive advantage.

“Our strength lies in the competitive advantage we have in Agricultural products like Cashew, nuts, Palm oil, cocoa, cotton, groundnut, Sesame seed and the major latent advantage we have in refined crude oil,” Ekechukwu said, adding that Nigeria remains the largest producers of the aforementioned items in Africa.

For Nigeria to, therefore, compete favourably to create wealth it must deepen products and standards in those value chains.

“There are many by-products of refined petroleum, like bitumen, paraffin, carbon black, and these can fetch us more the needed scarce foreign exchange,” he said.

Ekechukwu also urged the government to make concerted efforts to ensure that “these products are mass-produced for export, if possible through Green farms, state by state.”

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