Adopted in Kigali in 2018, and launched at the AU Summit in July 2019, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, signed by 55 African States, was due to come fully into force on 1 July 2020, until the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the commencement date was revised to Jan. 2021. However, as the revised commencement date draws closer, various experts have continued to highlight Nigeria as the most sought-after nation in the continent.
This assessment has been made, largely due to the unique economic potentials of Nigeria in the continent as the largest GDP in Africa.
In light of these, Mr.MeneWamkele, the Secretary-General of AfCFTA, was on a three-day working visit to Nigeria recently, which eventually extended to seven days, engaging key stakeholders including the Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment, Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations, the Legislative Arm of the Government and the Organized Private Sector.
Commenting on the visit of Mr.Wamkele and the preparedness of Nigeria on the proposed AfCTA launch; The Director-General, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Amb. AyoolaOlukanni said, “The AfCFTA is being implemented by some Nigerian companies, so the extended visit of MeneWamkele is an indication of the importance of Nigeria to the AfCFTA. This is why we on our part, should fast-track the ratification process.”
The undeniable reality is that Nigeria is the biggest and largest economy in Africa; Nigeria is also the largest market in the West Africa region, so it is in the interest of Nigeria and every other Member State yet to ratify, to do so before the revised AfCFTA trading date.
While there are valid reasons for the concerns and views of many analysts that Nigeria may become the dumping ground for sub-standard products, the merits for Nigeria in AfCFTA grossly out-weigh the challenges. The solution lies with Nigeria to straighten and tighten its policy to lead from the front, and take the full advantages of the opportunities and benefits of AfCFTA.
The good news, is that the country has begun the process of ensuring the ratification of the AfCFTA Agreement, setting up a National Action Committee on AfCFTA which will implement Nigeria’s roll-out strategy.