Addis Ababa, 23 November 2020, ECA – Nigeria’s National Action Committee on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) opened a three-day workshop series today that focuses on making the country the transportation hub for Africa under the trading bloc.
The objective of the series is to develop its national strategy for the transportation sector, including road, shipping, aviation and rail segments for implementing the continental agreement when it becomes operational on 1 January next year.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of state for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, said that transportation was indispensable in maximizing the potentials of the AfCFTA and key to the competitiveness of the country on the continent.
“There is need to extend the presence of transportation across Africa and have regional linkages to take advantage of logistics infrastructure that already exists,” she said.
Aviation minister Hadi Sirika said the country had developed a roadmap to enable the industry benefit from the agreement and contribute to growing the country’s gross domestic product appreciably.
As part of the roadmap, the country would concession some airports, float a national carrier and designate some airports as free trade zones, he said, adding that an efficient transport system would facilitate the movement of goods and services, promote business opportunities, create tourism and generate employment.
Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola said four out of the nine trans-African highways connected to the country were either undergoing expansion or construction to enhance trade facilitation.
Nigeria announced on 11 November that it would ratify the AfCFTA agreement, more than a year after it signed in July 2019.
The AfCFTA agreement entered into force on 30 May 2019 after the treaty was ratified by 22 countries – the minimum number required by the treaty. Trading was earlier scheduled to start on 1 July this year but was postponed for six months owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AfCFTA aims to create the world's largest free trade area with the potential that brings together more than 1.2 billion people with a GDP of over $2.5 trillion and usher in a new era of development. It has the potential to generate a range of benefits through economy of scale, trade creation, structural transformation, productive employment, and poverty reduction.
Through its African Trade Policy Centre, the ECA has been working with the AUC and member states to deepen Africa's trade integration and effectively implement the agreement through policy advocacy and national strategy development. The ECA also works closely with the International Trade Centre (ITC), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and a selection of independent trade experts with the financial support of the European Union (EU) to support the implementation of the AfCFTA across the continent.
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