In order to fully reap the rewards of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA), President Muhammadu Buhari has urged African Nations to increase and diversify their trade involvement. In Lagos on Monday, Buhari spoke on the topic “African Continental Free Trade Agreement: A Veritable Platform for African Shippers’ to Mainstream into Global Trade” at the ninth annual African Shippers’ Day.

According to Buhari, the involvement of African nations in global trade will increase income, create jobs, and lessen poverty. Despite the continent’s expansion, he pointed out that the share of African exports in world trade has remained quite low at just 3%. Ademola Adegoroye, the Minister of State for Transportation, attended the event in Buhari’s place.

He stated that the continent’s economic change depended on strengthening regional integration in order to expand supply capacity and create regional value chains.

“For the AfCFTA to have a good impact on long-term investment in productive capacities, the African government must provide the necessary supporting policies, construct the necessary infrastructure, and guarantee an educated labor force.”

However, Buhari said that the AfCFTA would revolutionize Nigerian trade inside Africa since Nigerian exports to its African partners would increase as trade liberalization became more ambitious. “In particular, Nigeria’s exports of fish, textiles, leather, wood, and papers, metals, electronics, automobiles, and machinery and equipment for transportation will expand by more than 15% to the rest of Africa.”

After the AfCFTA reform, “Nigeria’s exports will increase significantly to other African sub-regions outside of West Africa, with the most impressive expansions to countries like Botswana, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe,” added Buhari.

According to him, setting up national institutions to carry out the agreement’s implementation is necessary to make the AfCFTA a reality. The necessity of cooperation between the public and commercial sectors as well as donor organizations was again emphasized by the president.

“As a result, the Nigerian government has stepped up efforts to find new prospects for diversification and value chain growth within the AfCFTA, as well as any other measures deemed essential to remove the trade barriers now in place in Africa. We will achieve through cross sectoral strategy, including not just trade, but also closely related areas such as agriculture, industry, macroeconomic management and infrastructure development.”

He pointed out that in order for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to serve as a platform for the entry of African importers and exporters onto the global trading system, the participating member nations must implement audacious domestic structural reforms to expand the supply capacity of the area.

Dr. Bashir Jamoh, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), asked the gathering, in his contribution, to develop a roadmap that would give Africa an advantage over other continents in the global market. According to Jamoh, cooperation between the shipping port, and logistics sectors would significantly contribute to the industry’s efficiency and sustainability.

Mohammed Bello-Koko, the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), agreed and stated that automation was still a key component of port productivity.

The International Maritime Organization and the NPA are collaborating to deploy the Port Community System at Nigerian ports, according to Bello-Koko, in order to unify all stakeholders on a single platform for ease of doing business. The reorientation and reorganization of intra-African commerce, according to Mr. Emmanuel Jime, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, should begin at the sub-regional level.

“It will be much simpler to connect and conduct unrestricted trade with other parts of the continent once West and Central Africa gets its act together,” in his opinion. For him, the sub-economic region’s actors must be made aware of the necessity for smooth integration of the transport networks and trade policies of African nations.

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