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Obasanjo urges African nations to ratify free trade pact

By Igho Akeregha
18 December 2018   |   4:06 am
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday in Cairo, Egypt urged all African countries to quickly ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement...

Laments Nigeria’s delay in adopting AfCFTA
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday in Cairo, Egypt urged all African countries to quickly ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and implement policies that facilitate and support trade among the nations.

Obasanjo, who is also the chairman of the Advisory Council of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2018), gave the advice during a conversation session on the sixth day of the trade fair organised by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), and hosted by the government of Egypt.

He described the AfCFTA as an instrument of tremendous transformation which would change the structure of Africa. He said that the IATF would help to achieve the ratification of the pact.

“With the AfCFTA, Africa would be saying it would no longer accept the structure given by the colonialists. One of the things I hope we will be able to quickly make possible is availability of ‘visas-on-arrival’ or a common visa for a number of countries. It hurts that those who want to trade within Africa need to have so many visas.”

The former president also highlighted the challenges posed by differing trade regulations in different African countries.

“When you want to import or export, there are many different regulations from country to country, and we need to get away from that. What we are doing now will help us get away from that as soon as possible.”

Obasanjo commended Afreximbank for its effectiveness in moving forward the intra-African trade agenda and attributed that success to the culture of continuity in the bank where all the past presidents have continued to work with and support the current leadership in pursuit of the development of intra-African trade.

He expressed regret that Nigeria is yet to ratify the AfCFTA, even though the final negotiations for the agreement were led by Nigeria and the final agreement was taken to the country’s executive council and it was passed.

“It is my sincere wish that Nigeria will be at the table before the AfCFTA comes into effect. I went around the (IATF) pavilions and the Nigerian pavilion was large. How can you be talking about the IATF when you are not part of the AfCFTA? You cannot absent yourself from what is the way for the rest of Africa”.