The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has approved a $500 million facility to enable Nigerian manufacturers take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Benedict Oramah, its president & chairman of board of directors, made the announcement during the “2019 Manufacturers Annual Lecture/Presidential Luncheon” of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in Lagos on Tuesday.
The lecture’s theme was: “Improving the Value Chain in the Manufacturing Sector for Competitiveness & Job Creation” was organised by MAN, and was part of its 3-day Made-in-Nigeria Products Exhibition, which ends today as well as its forthcoming AGM.
Oramah, who was guest lecturer at forum said the $500 million facility was aimed at providing financing to Nigerian manufacturers and companies engaged in intra-African trade under the AfCFTA, which implementation begins in 2020.
AfCFTA seeks to create a continental trade bloc of 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of about $3 trillion.
The agreement also seeks to promote Africa’s regional integration and help increase intra-African trade by committing countries to liberalising services and trade and removing tariffs on 90 per cent of goods.
Apart from its inherent capacity to promote economic growth and development, reduce poverty in the partnering countries, the trade liberalisation deal was also expected to help expand and diversify trade and increase domestic and foreign investments.
Oramah in his presentation titled “From Commodities to a Global Manufacturing Hub: The Road Ahead for Nigeria,” said with AfCFTA coming into force, the benefits Nigeria will derive therein will depend on how prepared the country is, for instance, in participating actively in the negotiations such as the rule of origin.
He said other areas that should be addressed to allow Nigeria benefit include fixing the nation’s micro-economic policies and addressing issues of quality infrastructure, access to market and finance.
The Afreximbank chief, therefore, said the $500 million facility for manufacturers will help support and retool their operations with a view to improving their competitiveness in Africa and globally.
Earlier in his welcome address,Mansur Ahmed, MAN president said the theme: “Improving the Value Chain in the Manufacturing Sector for Competitiveness and Job Creation,” was intended to direct manufacturers’ attention to the need for a robust manufacturing production agenda.
“It is our view that for Africa – and certainly Nigeria to achieve beneficial free trade, we must significantly improve the value-chain in our manufacturing sector. This is the most assured route to achieving competitiveness, enhancing job creation and lifting the vast majority of our people out of poverty,” he said.
Mansur also said MAN believes there is an urgent need for a comprehensive industrialisation strategy that incorporates and builds on all the impactful policies and initiatives President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has implemented over the past four years.
“We are of the view that Nigeria must put in place a comprehensive and robust strategy that seeks to address all critical constraints to economic growth and sustainable development, including the huge deficits in infrastructure especially energy and transport services,” he said.