The African Development Bank (AfDB) has expressed optimism that Nigeria, the largest country on the continent will soon ratify the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement.
The Director, Industrial and Trade Development of AfDB, Abdu Mukhtar, said this in an interview with newsmen on Sunday. The CFTA was adopted on March 21, 2018 and has presently been ratified by 22 African countries. It seeks to create a single market for goods and services and movement of persons to deepen economic integration of the continent among others. According to Mukhtar, Nigeria is an important country for the CFTA and for the agreement to be effective useful and really worthwhile, Nigeria has to be part of it.
He said:”From what we are hearing, I think Nigeria is finalising their discussions with key stakeholders. I understand the Nigeria government has been making consultations with the private sector, manufacturers association and so on. I have been talking to some of these people in Nigeria and I think the reason why they have been skeptical is that they don’t understand what is in it for them. So, what we could also do as a bank to provide that support to the Nigerian private sector is to organise a session for them. We did that two weeks ago in Abidjan as a test case, brought all the business people in Cote d’Ivoire and neighbouring countries and basically explained to them what the CFTA is. The private sector is the engine of growth in any country, so it is natural that they are apprehensive about what it means for them. They are apprehensive of whether it will benefit them or whether their market will be swollen by companies from other countries.
“So, I think that is the issue, but we are very confident that the Nigerian government will conclude on this consultation very soon and officially join.’’ Mukhtar, however said that the AfDB was working at ensuring the success of the CFTA and had gotten approval from its Board of Directors to support submission of the CFTA secretariat.