The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), when fully implemented, could afford Nigerian companies preferential access to African markets worth $504.17 billion in goods, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, has said.
Delivering his remarks at the Zenith Bank’s 2021 Export Seminar held virtually in Lagos, yesterday, Emefiele said additional $162 billion in services will also come to Nigeria.
The CBN boss urged Nigerian businesses to seize the AfCFTA opportunity to ensure that Nigeria serves as a significant hub for international and domestic manufacturing companies seeking to serve the West, Central and East African Markets.
He said that Nigeria has 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,” he said.
Emefiele said Nigerian banks are already playing a significant role in expanding across the African continent.
“I would like to encourage them to also leverage their presence in other parts of Africa, to support Nigerian businesses seeking to expand into new markets in Africa, by providing trade facilities to those with strong potentials for growth,” he said.
Emefiele said the apex bank has taken considerable steps to improve the productive capacity of businesses, which would enable them take advantage of export opportunities in Africa.
“Our intervention programs in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, are helping to enable businesses expand their scale of production, which is meeting growing domestic demand for goods, but also providing goods for the export market.”
He said the apex bank set up a N500 billion non-oil export stimulation facility with the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM). “This initiative will also help to enable greater exports of processed agriculture commodities into other markets in Africa and in the global market,” he said .
He said that supporting greater trade within Africa as well as with the global community is indeed vital to the CBN’s objectives of enabling greater economic growth and creating employment opportunities for our growing population in Nigeria.
Trade enables specialization, economies of scale and it also provides significant rewards to those who are innovative, as they can sell their goods and services to an expanded market.
He said a strong and well-balanced recovery will require additional contributions from the private sector in supporting greater growth of our non-oil exports.
The volatility in the oil markets which has exposed the Nigerian economy to significant exogenous shocks, along with the growing trajectory towards lesser use of fossil fuels in the near future, by some advanced and emerging market countries, makes it imperative that we work to significantly improve our non-oil exports earnings.
“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 stated.