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‘How Nigeria, others can benefit from AfCFTA, AUC, UNIDO’

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Director-General of UNIDO, LI Yong

To benefit from the $3 trillion market to be created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Nigeria and other African countries, need to improve their manufacturing growth rate beyond the present pace.

Arising from the yearly commemoration of Africa Industrialisation Day (AID) at the weekend, the stakeholders including the African Union Commission (AUC), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, among others, noted that though the continent’s manufacturing sector has been growing faster than the world average, the pace needs to gain more speed.

Director-General of UNIDO, LI Yong, stated that AfCFTA is a golden opportunity to make optimal use of the regional market, develop local and regional value chains to produce products according to international standards, adding that collective response is critical in order to strive in an internationally competitive environment.

Yong, whose speech was read by UNIDO Representative to ECOWAS and Regional Director Nigeria Regional Office Hub, Jean Bakole, noted that by strengthening country specific and regional comparative advantages in terms of resources, information, knowledge, skills and institutions, Africa can emerge as a strong industrial power in the near future.

“Regionally coordinated initiatives, supported by strong political will can help optimize usage of the continent’s resources to create a strong infrastructural base and foster manufacturing. For example, the transboundary renewable energy potential stemming from sources such as hydro and solar in Africa is enormous and can lead to the development of value chains and fuel industrialization, trade and progress.

“Regional cooperation within the framework of AfCFTA can exploit the huge reservoir of potential resources to create sustainable industrial development as an effective means of fostering transformative change towards greater manufacturing value added and regional integration”, he added.

Speaking during the event, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Niyi Adebayo, called for increased intra-African trade, to reduce the continent’s vulnerability to external macroeconomic shocks and protectionist trade policies.

The Minister emphasized that increased intra-Africa trade will improve export sophistication across the continent.

“If Africa is to fulfil its potential of diversifying and transforming its economies through the AfCFTA, African countries must begin the work of implementing strategies for exports, diversification, industrialization, and value chain development.”

“The road ahead to realising these opportunities is tough and challenging but we have no choice but to tackle them head on. On our part, the Nigerian Government is committed to resolving the constraints, which remain in our business environment.

“Relevant teams across the Government are implementing various initiatives that address key areas of concern such as the need for modern infrastructure, power supply and good road networks; improving the patronage of locally made goods; bridging the gap in skills and innovation, improving the ease of doing business, improving cost and access to finance for SMEs, resolving multiple taxation, amongst others,” he said.

According to the Joint Statement of the AUC, UNIDO and UNECA, “This year’s celebration provides us a renewed opportunity to re-affirm the commitments of African Union member states and the international community towards accelerating the inclusive and Sustainable Industrial development of the African continent under the theme “Positioning Africa Industry to Supply the AfCFTA Market”.

Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, said: “On behalf of the good people of Cross River State, I want to thank the Minister of Industry and Industry, Trade and Investment, and UNIDO for hosting the 2019 Africa Industrialization Day in Cross River State, in recognition of our ongoing efforts towards industrializing our state. Also, I want to commend UNIDO for being a reliable partner in supporting Nigeria and also Cross River State towards achieving Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development.”


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