The Federal Government has said it is targeting an intra-Africa export trade valued at $50 billion annually through the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This target, government said, is to be achieved by 2035.
Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Public Sector Matters, Mr. Francis Anatogu, who disclosed this in Lagos, said Nigeria’s export to Africa is currently less than nine per cent of the country’s total export. According to Anatogu, who is also the Secretary of the National Action Committee on AfCFTA, Nigeria’s success with the trade policy will be measured by the creation of a diversified and sustainable Nigerian economy with strong linkages with neighbours and the top economies in Africa and a globally accepted country brand.
He added that the country would also be leveraging Af- CFTA to prepare for a post-oil revenue-driven society. The senior special assistant said the country has been making progress with the implementation as it has concluded negotiations on rules of origin for 12 per cent of tariff lines while it has also concluded negotiations on “trade in services” commitments. Anatogu said the trade agreement would give Nigerian businesses access to Africa’s export market, valued at $504.17 billion.
On concerns that the current state of infrastructure in the country may place Ni-geria at a disadvantage position, Anatogu said, for a start, the country would be focusing on its area of strength on the continent. According to him, Nigeria has a comparative advantage in the financial service industry and would be leveraging that. “Our banks are all over Africa and we have the biggest fintech ecosystem in Africa. If you look at financial services, insurance is a big area that we can tap into. So, there are so many areas. These are without mentioning the movie and entertainment industry, where Nigeria is currently dominating,” he said.
He, however, noted that Nigeria currently lags in manufacturing due to poor infrastructure. To address the infrastructure challenge, he said the government would this year embark on several projects. According to him, the projects, which have been captured in the 2021 budget, included N11.61 billion for the rehabilitation of various railway tracks including N8.86 billion for Nigeria Railway modernization project Lagos- Ibadan-Kano. Other projects, according to him, include N6.05 billion for the construction of Outreach centres including the supply of equipment; N1.01 billion for the development of National Transport Databank; N1.92 billion for Construction & equipping of Driver Development & Training Centres in 6 geo-political zones.
On power, he said government has also earmarked N1 billion for the distribution expansion programme projects to utilise the stranded power from the grid; N400 million for the completion of renewable energy micro utility (REMU) projects nationwide; N717 million for construction of 2x60MVA 132/33KV substation at Geidam Yobe State; N609 million for construction of 215MW LPFO/ Gas Power station Kaduna; and N2.5 billion for Kashambilla Transmission. Anatogu added that Nigeria was also preparing for the Af- CFTA through the N50 billion Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP), implemented by the FMITI and the N2.3 trillion National Economic Sustainability Plan for export-driven economic growth; N1 billion Nigeria-Africa Trade Investment Programme (NATIPP) jointly launched by Nigeria Export- Import Bank (NEXIM), African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM) and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC); and the NEPC Zero Oil Plan (ZOP), to promote non-oil exports, create at least 500,000 additional jobs and generate a minimum of $150 billion, among several others.