Proctor and Gamble, the American multinational consumer goods company with a strong presence in Nigeria, says it is a firm believer in strengthening intra Africa trade and that small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as the bedrock of any economy, it was imperative to enable interventions that support their competitiveness and strengthen industrialization in Nigeria and among African nations.
At an American Business Council’s organised webinar focusing on the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement post COVID-19, Temitope Iluyemi, director, global government relations for Africa at P&G, said a quick and effective implementation of the AFCFTA will boost trade in the region, support the competitiveness and integration of SMEs into regional value chains and improve industrialization at the macro level.
“This needs to take into cognizance, a review of policies that support industrialization in the context of covid19, support for improved supply chain infrastructure and disproportionate support for the local production of essential hygiene, food and medical items” Iluyemi said.
The ABC organised the webinar in partnership with the US Africa Business Centre, American Chamber of Commerce Ghana, Africa Continental Free Trade Area to discuss the role of the AfCFTA in stimulating domestic production in the wake of Covid-19 and ways in which the AfCFTA can engage partners domestically and internationally to provide technical and financial support to countries in resolving critical issues.
“The American Business Council sees the importance of having this engagement with the African Continental Free Trade Area led by His Excellency Wamkele Mene, to address the concerns of the private and public sector across Africa, determine the timelines for implementation as well as determine critical areas the AfCFTA would require support in achieving its goals,” said Dipo Faulkner, the president of the American Business Council
In a statement sent to Business A.M., the ABC explained that the impacts of the new coronavirus on the global economy has been dire with countries and businesses experiencing economic shocks, healthcare shortfalls, and slowdown in supply chains.
The council further noted that Covid-19 has infected over five million people and recorded over 356,000 deaths. South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria currently have the highest cases in Africa with over 50,000 infected people in each of these countries, adding that Mckinsey estimates that the GDP of Africa could contract by as much as eight percentage points from the 3.9% growth forecast that was made for 2020.
“Whilst the AfCFTA brings some positives, there are some critical concerns by the public and private institutions: for instance, a major potential challenge in harmonizing Africa’s heterogeneous economies under one agreement is the wide variation that exists in their levels of development.
“Over 50% of Africa’s cumulative GDP is contributed by Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa, while Africa’s six sovereign island nations collectively contribute just 1%,” the ABC noted.
Along with Procter and Gamble, the webinar was sponsored by Jumia and Google.