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AfCFTA: Trade level among African nations abysmally low – Buhari laments

  By Williams Anuku   President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday lamented what he described as a poor trading mechanism in the African contine...


By Williams Anuku


President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday lamented what he described as a poor trading mechanism in the African continent, saying there was the need for a more robust physical integration, breaking barriers to geographic and political fragmentations, including strengthening political cooperation.


The President was speaking at the second African Sub-Sovereign Governments Network (AFSNET) Conference in Abuja, organised by the Afreximbank in collaboration with the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.


Buttressing his position, Buhari said “as leaders, we must all be concerned that we are not trading enough amongst ourselves”. Stressing that it is a bitter reality that Intra-regional trade still accounts for a very tiny fraction of total trade in Africa.


He cautioned that key players in the continent have to understand that if the new drive towards a continental free trade area is to succeed, “we must demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackle the slow pace of physical integration due to geographic and political fragmentations, especially the pace of political cooperation, and difficult tariff and non-tariff barriers that inhibit business integration.”


He said if these factors are well streamlined, the continent will record a much stronger pace of transformation.


He gave the perspective against the backdrop of the AfCFTA, to which Nigeria is a signatory.


Buhari also indicated that through shared knowledge, innovation and creativity, the continent will be well positioned and better able to cater to the needs of the African continent’s population of over 1.4 billion people.


While speaking directly to shareholders at the Conference, he urged them to use the network and support provided by pan-African institutions to exchange ideas, knowledge, and skills.


The Conference, he said, should also seek and advance innovative solutions to support our common quest to expand intra-Africa trade opportunities for our people.


Buhari seized the forum to laud the conference organizers for demonstrating innovative thinking by taking the AfCFTA to the grassroots, lauding the President of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, and his team for committing US$250 million as seed capital towards the establishment of the AFSNET.


While acknowledging that the initiative spearheaded by Afreximbank was aimed at firmly establishing and deepening the intra-continental trade investment development frontier for Africa, facilitating the reduction in the continent’s dependence on exports of primary commodities and minimizing the risks experienced due to strong reliance on global value chains.


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