The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, says Nigerian companies will get access to markets worth $666 billion once the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is implemented.
In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the agreement at the AU summit which held in Niamey.
AfCFTA is a trade agreement between AU member states with the goal of creating a single market and deepening the economic integration of the continent.
The free-trade zone would be the largest in the world since the creation of the World Trade Organisation in 1995.
Speaking at the 2021 export seminar organised by Zenith Bank on Tuesday, Emefiele said the AfCFTA aligns with the apex bank’s commitment towards enabling economic growth and creating employment opportunities for Nigeria’s population.
“We believe that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) offer significant opportunities for the Nigerian private sector to expand into new markets, and seek new export opportunities, particularly in the area of Manufacturing, ICT, Agriculture and Financial services, given our growing advantage in these areas relative to our counterparts in other parts of Africa,” he said.
“Full implementation of the AfCFTA, is expected to give Nigerian firms preferential access to markets in Africa worth $504.17 billion in goods and $162 billion in services.
“I believe that we should seize this opportunity to ensure that Nigeria serve as a significant hub for international and domestic manufacturing companies seeking to serve the West, Central and East African Markets.
“In addition, we have a very young energetic, technological savvy population that have been leveraging technological applications to improve service delivery in the areas of finance, logistics and agriculture to consumers in Nigeria.
“I believe the AFCFTA will provide an opportunity for these young talented Nigerians to expand their services across the African region. Developing trade portals that could support instant sales of goods manufactured in Nigeria to consumers in other parts of Africa is one aspect that can help to support the creation of jobs in Nigeria and improve foreign exchange inflows for the country.”
Emefiele said the CBN has taken steps to improve the productive capacity of businesses, which would enable them take advantage of export opportunities in Africa.
He said the bank has established a N500 billion non-oil export stimulation facility with the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) to boost exports of processed agriculture commodities into other markets in Africa and in the global market.
The CBN governor added that the apex bank is working with key stakeholders in the African continent, particularly the AfreximBank to improve the underlying payment infrastructure to support greater intra-regional trade, through the Pan African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS).
“Although Nigeria stands to gain from expanded trade, I believe it is also important that we pay attention to the cost that expanded trade through the AFCFTA could have on local businesses and communities,” he said.
“Smuggling of goods produced in non-African countries into Nigeria, and abuse of rules of origin have often resulted in significant job losses and displacements of workers in key sectors of our economy such as agriculture and manufacturing.
“It is vital that we work with the governing body of the AFCFTA in addressing these concerns, as it has profound implications on unemployment and security in Nigeria.”