Godwin Emefiele, governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said on Tuesday that full implementation of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is expected to give Nigerian firms preferential access to markets in Africa worth $504.17 billion in goods and $162 billion in services.
He said AfCFTA has the potential of offering significant opportunities for the Nigerian private sector to expand into new markets and seek new export opportunities, particularly in the area of manufacturing, ICT, agriculture and financial services, given Nigeria’s growing advantage in these areas relative to counterparts in other parts of Africa.
Emefiele disclosed this at Zenith Bank’s 2021 Export Seminar which was held virtually on Tuesday.
“I believe that we should seize this opportunity to ensure that Nigeria serves as a significant hub for international and domestic manufacturing companies seeking to serve the West, Central and East African markets”, the apex bank governor said.
Emefiele, who commended Zenith Bank for its focus on growing non-oil exports by organising the seminar, said AfCFTA, if well harnessed, can enable greater growth and improved foreign inflows for the Nigerian economy.
He said, “Supporting greater trade within Africa as well as with the global community is indeed vital to the CBN’s objectives of enabling greater economic growth and creating employment opportunities for our growing population in Nigeria. Trade enables specialisation, economies of scale and it also provides significant rewards to those who are innovative, as they can sell their goods and services to an expanded market.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting implications on crude oil prices in 2020, which led to a significant decline in government revenues, as well as in our foreign exchange earnings, served to strengthen the case that we must diversify our economy and create new trade opportunities for Nigerians, as part of our recovery efforts.
“Fortunately, the Nigerian economy was able to emerge out of the recession in the 4th quarter of 2020, following two quarters of negative growth. This was due to significant interventions by the monetary and fiscal authorities in Nigeria, aimed at stimulating consumption expenditure.
“However, a strong and well-balanced recovery will require additional contributions from the private sector in supporting greater growth of our non-oil exports. The volatility in the oil markets which has exposed the Nigerian economy to significant exogenous shocks, along with the growing trajectory towards lesser use of fossil fuels in the near future, by some advanced and emerging market countries, makes it imperative that we work to significantly improve our non-oil exports earnings.
“We have a very young energetic, technological savvy population that has been leveraging technological applications to improve service delivery in the areas of finance, logistics and agriculture to consumers in Nigeria. I believe the AfCFTA will provide an opportunity for these young talented Nigerians to expand their services across the African region.
“Developing trade portals that could support instant sales of goods manufactured in Nigeria to consumers in other parts of Africa is one aspect that can help to support the creation of jobs in Nigeria and improve foreign exchange inflows for the country.
“Our banks are already playing a significant role in expanding across the African continent. I would like to encourage them to also leverage their presence in other parts of Africa, to support Nigerian businesses seeking to expand into new markets in Africa, by providing trade facilities to those with strong potential for growth.
“At the CBN, we have taken considerable steps to improve the productive capacity of businesses, which would enable them take advantage of export opportunities in Africa. Our intervention programmes in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors are helping to enable businesses to expand their scale of production, which is meeting growing domestic demand for goods, but also providing goods for the export market. In addition, we have set up a N500 billion non-oil export stimulation facility with the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM). This initiative will also help to enable greater exports of processed agriculture commodities into other markets in Africa and in the global market”, Emefiele said.
Source: Independent Ng