The Executive Chairman/CEO, BUA Group, Abdul Samad Rabiu, has expressed excitement and readiness to work towards the implementation and success of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement, which, when fully operational, will transform the African economy and enhance development across the continent.
Rabiu said this when he received the Secretary General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, and the Acting Director, National Office of Trade Negotiations, Victor Offiong, at the BUA Headquarters in Lagos State.
Rabiu spoke in depth about the current status of regional agreements from the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme to the East African Community Customs Union, dumping, proliferation of small arms and illicit, smuggling, trans-African highway and Private sector/African Union/government partnerships, noting that these areas were critical to the success of the AfCFTA.
He specifically said due to the poor implementation of regional trade agreements, there is a high level of distrust amongst Africa nations despite their support for AfCFTA.
He expressed serious concern over “a situation where people cannot move goods produced in African countries where over 90 per cent value has been added to other African Countries.
In proffering solutions to the problems, Rabiu said for the AfCFTA integration to be successful, there must be free movement through liberalised air travel, operations and visa-free regimes across the Africa continent for businesses and individuals.
He also emphasised that the Private Sector must be invited by the Governments of Africa to discuss the way forward for sustainable investments and partnerships, noting that the private sector has a lot to offer the continent.
He said: “For cross border trade to work, everyone – governments, private sector and DFIs – must be willing to collaborate fast to fix infrastructure to spur growth.
“BUA is interested in being part of these effort and we also urge the secretariat to look into a private-sector led development of the Trans African Highway.
“I am personally ready to mobilise like-minded businesses across the continent with the resources required (steel, cement, etc) to do these roads at a concession and guaranteed by sovereign African nations.
“This can be done by the private sector with support from governments and the DFIs.
“Why don’t we, for example, partner with various governments and engage the Special Envoy for Infrastructure in Africa, H.E. Ralia Odinga, and take the Mombasa-Lagos Highway into consideration.
“The Lagos-Mombasa Highway 8 is about 6,259kms or 3880miles and is contiguous with the Dakar-Lagos Route.
“If these roads are actualised, imagine the number of jobs that will be created as well as the amount of trade that will be facilitated as a result.
“We are more than excited about the possibilities of the Free Trade Agreement for us, Nigeria and the entire continent of Africa now more than ever.
“The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, if actualised and harnessed properly, will help spur development and trade within Africa like we have never witnessed before.”
On his part, Mene said the issues raised by Rabiu were top priorities of the AfCFTA, adding that opportunities will be created for Africa’s private sector to boost intra-Africa trade.