By Princewill Ekwujuru
Stakeholders in trade and investment sector have outlined ways Nigeria could effectively mobilise for the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Speaking at the virtual ‘Nigeria Investment Conference’ with the theme: “Nigeria Beyond Oil: Growing Regional and Global Trade under the #AfCFTA,” hosted by Nazaru LLC, a US-based firm, Chairman of the Export Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Kola Awe, called on the private sector to take responsibility for capacity mobilisation for the AfCFTA.
Awe, who noted that the government cannot do everything given the myriad of challenges it faces, urged the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to work around the challenges in the system to effectively position its members for the AfCFTA.
He added that focus should be on the country’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES), which remained unprepared for the regional market. “A lot of people might want to say we are set when they look at the large industries and multinationals. How many people do they employ?
“Basically, the big companies are set and can mobilise capacity, finance, infrastructure and everything that they need to take advantage of the AfCFTA, but we cannot say the same for the MSMEs, which are the largest employers of labour.”
He urged the big companies to carry the MSMEs along by breaking the barriers between them and providing them with trade data through product and country mapping.
A Regional Coordinator of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Arnold Jackson, said the agency has developed a “Zero Oil Plan” aimed at boosting the country’s non-oil exports.
Jackson stated that under the plan, which is built into the federal government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan”, is a “One-State-One-Product” initiative that prioritizes products and sectors where Nigeria has comparative advantage.
Emeka Offor, Director, Strategic Communications, Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), spoke on government’s efforts in the facilitation of trade and investment, saying that the NIPC had since opened a ‘Single Window Investment Portal’ that provides real-time information to intending investors around the world.
Earlier, the event host and founder of Nazaru, Toyin Umesiri, urged Nigeria to identify its top five priority countries and sectors under the AfCTFA.
“This means, map the countries, map the sectors, and see what sectors in other countries you want your private sector players to penetrate and start building strategies around that,” Umesiri said.