In the quest for stronger African economy, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has urged African leaders to embrace intra-African trade and industrialization designed to grow its economy.
Speaking today at the 17th Annual Lecture & International Leadership Symposium by the Centre for Value in Leadership with the theme ‘Intra-African Trade: Growth and Economic Development at the Muson Centre, Onikan, the Governor who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat stated that if greater attention is focused on improving the current level of intra Africa trade, Africa as a continent and individual countries stand to gain a lot in terms of enhanced economic growth and development.
He affirmed that the African Continental Trade Agreement (AFCTA) is a product of this realization adding that “AFCTA is a bold step and if well implemented, it has a potential to increase intra Africa trade by 52 percent by 2020 and create more job opportunities of the army of unemployed young people”. He emphasized that trade between nations thrive on the commitment of parties to the principles of fairness, integrity and equity.He further noted that if these principles are breached with its attendant negative effects on the economy of one party, then the sustenance of trade relations and the mutual benefits that should accrue from such would be threatened.
In his goodwill message, the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mr. Philip Shaibu stated that pan African trade must be taken seriously, in order to unlock the untapped potentials. He also noted “that the adoption of AFCTA has created the largest trading block in the world with over a trillion consumers and a GDP of over 3 trillion dollars, it has resurrected the goldmines we have neglected for so long”.
He further noted that for Africa to enjoy the benefit of expanded market, it must first work towards reducing or even eliminate those barriers that hinder the African trade such as Cross Border conflicts, Piracy, Tariff and Transport Infrastructure deficit.Similarly, the Deputy Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Umar Namadi, also appreciated the timeliness of the topic as it will be useful for the development of the African economy.
He announced that Jigawa state is partnering with various institutions including the Central Bank of Nigeria to pull its people out of poverty and to sustain the economy of the state.
Speaking earlier, the keynote speaker, Professor Benedict Okey Oramah urged the African leaders to move from poverty to prosperity on a platform of rapid industrialization using the South East Asian economy as examples.
He added that the African economy has potentials given, its population of 1.3 billion people which makes 16 percent of the people in the world.Laying emphasis on the importance of that the AFCFTA he noted “that it will help improve Africa’s share of global manufacturing output, could increase trade between African countries for as much as 35 billion US dollars, push regional trade levels up from 15 percent to 25 percent within a decade and ultimately, exponentially increase the continent’s annual economic growth, create wealth more inclusively and reduce poverty”.
He advised African governments to focus on minimizing the fiscal revenue losses that the AFCTA may cause, and ensure that the private sector is well prepared to take advantage of the market opportunity the AFCTA will throw open.
During his opening remarks, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Chief Joseph Sanusi who was the Chairman of the event, noted that African Countries need to be more competitive, its infrastructure must be such that will enable products and industries to compete by ensuring optimum cost and competitive with the rest of the world.