By Providence Emmanuel
Experts have harped on the need for Nigeria to improve on its infrastructural facilities to enable the country reap the benefits of African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, AFCTA .
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The experts expressed this at the Oando Plc 6th edition of its legal seminar held at the Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi Lagos.The event had in attendance seasoned legal professionals and stakeholders across the financial, manufacturing and energy sectors, who discussed salient legal issues that affects the country, as well as proffer solutions on addressing them.
Speaking on the importance of the seminar, the Chief Legal Officer, Oando Plc, Mrs. Ngozi Okonkwo, explained that the seminar was borne out of the need to drive engagement and create an avenue for knowledge sharing in the Nigerian legal sector, whilst bringing forth opportunities for collaborations and deliberations that would be beneficial to practitioners, the industry, and the country at large.
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She said: “The kind of value you gain from seminars like these cannot be over emphasized, attendees leave equipped with knowledge that are certain to come in handy in their practice and other endeavors. As a result of their busy schedules, many professionals do not have enough time for personal development; however, seminars such as these are an easy way to gain real value, opening the door for that flood of useful information that equips us to become that valuable knowledge resource.”
Topics discussed at the event included the intricacies of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA) which has now been signed by 52 out of 55 African countries, including Nigeria. Experts, at the event harped on the need for Nigeria to improve on its infrastructural facilities to enable the country reap the benefits of AFCTA.
Speaking on a panel discussion themed – ‘’African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement: Channelings and Opportunities for Nigerian Companies”, Dr. Khruschev Ekwueme, Partner at Olaniwun Ajayi Legal Practice, highlighted that as much as Nigeria’s signing the AFCTA was a step in the right direction, the country needs to work on key elements such as infrastructure development to fully harness the opportunities of the free trade zone.
Te key objective of AFCTA is to boost intra-African trade through progressive elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in goods and liberalisation of trade in services. The Agreement will also involve cooperation on investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy.
Partner at DLA Piper, Barrister Charles Morrison, who was the moderator for the session, opined “Nigeria is no doubt the prize for many investors and companies as far as the AFCTA is concerned, Nigeria simply has more resources, workers and consumers than anywhere else in Africa, and for many businesses, there is no other place in Africa that can offer such scale. This will provide a competitive advantage to Nigeria in firm considerations of where to cite facilities and do business.”
Also sitting on the panel were Regional Managing Partner, Mr. Seyi Bickersteth, who explained that the AFCTA was a great way to drive competition and growth in Africa; Partner at KPMG Professional Services, Mr. Ajibola Omolola, and Managing Partner at Comercio Partners, Mr. Nnamdi Nwizu.
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At the session on Gas Commercialization: Prospects and challenges for Nigerian Upstream companies under the 2018 Flare Gas Regulations, given by Adegbite Falade, Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Oilserv Nigeria Limited, industry stakeholders were intimated on the real opportunities and challenges for gas producers in the country.