Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, said President Muhammadu Buhari’s delay in signing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was a sign of weakness on the part of the current administration.
Speaking at the second Babacar Ndiaye lecture series organised by Africa Import-Export Bank (Afreximbank) in Bali, Indonesia, on the sidelines of the ongoing IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings, Obasanjo said Nigerians should expect a president who will be able to sign the agreement soon because President Buhari is too weak to sign the agreement.
“Africa cannot overcome fear of trade wars till it achieves 50 per cent intra-Africa trade. The AfCTA is a good idea and for Nigeria, hopefully, we will have a president that will be able to sign it because the one that is there now, his hands are too weak to sign,” Obasanjo said.
AfCFTA is an attempt to boost intra-African trade which presently, is estimated at just 10 per cent. It aspires to operate a single market for goods and services, just like the European Union. With a population estimated at more than 1.2 billion and bringing together 54 countries, it has the potential of becoming the largest of such regional economic blocs in the world based on the number of countries involved. The free-trade zone is the largest in the world since the creation of the World Trade Organisation in 1995.
Nigeria was absent in March as leaders from 44 African countries signed the agreement to form a $2.5 trillion continental free-trade zone. The federal government had said a committee was reviewing the treaty and that it needs more input from stakeholders.
Also speaking at the lecture, Afrexim’s president, Benedict Oramah, said, although not part of its core mandate, Afrexim has pledged to set up an education fund to pilot education enhancement in the region. Professor Oramah says Africa is not doing enough to improve her citizens to bring them at per with their global counterparts.
Oramah was responding to earlier requests by Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, a university professor and director of the centre for sustainable development, who called for the establishment of a special fund for promotion of education in African countries.
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