Nigeria has been asked to improve its ease of doing business record to be able to maintain its prime place as the country with the largest economy in Africa with the advent of the famous African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
President of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) Dr Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, gave the advice during the opening ceremony of this year’s Abuja international trade fair, holding at the Abuja convention centre. The fair is titled: ‘Exploring Opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area.’
While the agreement has the potential to reduce poverty, create significant opportunities for member countries, there are concerns that unprepared countries could lose positions to others considering the fact that it is a competitive venture for all.
Dr Abubakar said the private sector must be ready to capitalise on the readiness of the government to deploy all state apparatus in support of Nigeria’s participation in AfCFTA.
“As a chamber, we have embarked on a series of activities to strengthen the capacity of our members and the private sector as a whole to be strong players at continental level. Through our four centres, we emphasise capacity training for the export market, trans-national alternative dispute resolution, programme for pro-business policy and gathering together of stakeholders,” Abubakar said.
Also, director-general of the chamber, Victoria Akai, said the fair is thus a major contributor to the facilitation of trade both locally and internationally.
“With the world gradually coming out from the COVID-19 pandemic, this will help open up opportunities for businesses to recover from what they lost during the pandemic,” Akai assured.
According to her, in the last five years, ACCI has embarked on a commitment to improve the quality of its trade events, first through improving its infrastructure and then engaging MICE expertise, with the intention to eventually upgrade the delivery of the events to world class standards and to align with current realities of business.
Minister of trade and investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, represented by Mr Aliyu Abubakar, said: “We want businesses in Nigeria to take advantage of the AfCFTA.”
He explained that the government was still putting certain measures in place to implement and get the agreement right.
“We are willing to partner with the Abuja chamber to make full use of the opportunities in the implementation of the agreement.
“We are ready to partner with ACCI in areas of trade facilitation, participation and investment,” he added.
Chairman of Abuja trade centre, Dr Johnson Anene, said Nigeria needs to think of how to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the agreement. “This trade fair is to push forward the opportunities in the private sector, particularly the SMEs.”
He further said that the chamber has been able to put a framework in place for people to return and get free information about the opportunities available in the AfCFTA.
According to the president of NACCIMA, Mr John Udeagbala, the AfCFTA has the potential to reduce poverty, improve the economy and aid trade between Nigeria and its neighbours. He promised NACCIMA’s support for pro-business policies for a greater Nigerian economy.