The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) says that the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will serve as a catalyst for industrialization and development of the manufacturing sector in Nigeria.

NEPC Director Export Trade, Mr. Sidi-Aliyu Abdulahhi at the AfCFTA Sensitization Seminar organized by the National Action Committee of the implementation of the agreement disclosed this. Mr. Abdulahhi said the AfCFTA is the largest free trade area since the WTO (in terms of countries participating) and will cover a market of 1.3 billion customers which would be beneficial for Nigerian producers. The trade agreements will promote infrastructural development for easy transportation of goods and services across the continent.

The liberation of trade in Africa will strengthen Nigerian SMEs for regional trade and be a catalyst for extending operations outside Africa. “The AfCFTA will promote diversification of the economy from extractive products like oil and minerals to non-oil products that were previously underutilized,” Abdulahhi added. AfCFTA stakeholders are currently working to develop a digital framework to support an e-commerce platform to enable member nations to trade safely in the midst of the pandemic, he added.

Trucks Transporting Export Goods

On challenges facing the implementation, he urged the need to conduct a gap analysis on the readiness of Nigeria to AfCFTA, for a successful implementation. He said the implementation constraints primarily lies with the government while the private sector may experience capacity constraints. Other challenges will include high-interest rates, unreliable power supply, inadequate power supply, ease of doing business environment and SME  capacity development for the requirements to participate in regional and global value chains.

He urged for the institutional framework to address rule of origin of goods and also technical barriers to trade SPS through the implementation of verification mechanisms.