Abuja, May 18, 2023: The Federal Government has promised to provide enabling environment that would guarantee the unlocking of intra African trade potential.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo made the pledge at the inauguration of the onboarding process for business and exporters via the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI).
According to Adebayo, this initiative will act as a compass, guiding businesses through the intricate landscape of trade, enabling them to navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.
“Through GTI, we intend to bridge the information gap, streamline processes, foster collaboration, and unlock the full potential of intra-African trade,’’ the minister said.
The Guided Trade Initiative is an integral part of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which aims to facilitate and enhance trade activities by providing businesses and exporters with the necessary tools, knowledge and support.
The minister listed value addition and industrialization, skills development and capacity building and trade facilitation and logistics as key areas of focus that would guide businesses under AfCFTA as Nigeria accelerates GTI initiative implementation.
According to him, The AfCFTA presents an extraordinary opportunity to harness our collective strengths, leverage our abundant resources and create an integrated market that will drive sustainable economic development for our continent.
Adebayo commended businesses and exporters joining the GTI for their foresight and determination.
He said, “By embracing this initiative, you demonstrate your commitment to growth and your willingness to adapt to a new era of trade.
“I encourage you to seize this opportunity to explore new markets, expand your networks, and capitalise on the diverse consumer base that Africa offers.
“We recognise that the road to success is not without challenges.
“I assure you that the government remains steadfast in its commitment to providing an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“We will continue to implement policies that foster ease of doing business, improve infrastructure, enhance trade facilitation mechanisms, and promote innovation and technology adoption’’.
Adebayo, however, urged the private sector and businesses to engage with government entities, industry associations and fellow entrepreneurs to share best practices, address bottlenecks and collectively overcome hurdles that impede trade.
According to him, collaboration and partnerships will be vital in driving inclusive growth, ensuring that Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) can equally benefit from the AfCFTA.
He explained that AfCFTA represents a step towards breaking barriers and building bridges, fostering social integration and nurturing a sense of African pride.
“As we embark on this momentous journey together, let us remain committed to the principles that underpin the AfCFTA—fairness, inclusivity, sustainability and shared benefits.
“Let us embrace the spirit of collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship that will drive our economic transformation and elevate Africa to new heights,’’ the minister said.
On his part, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, the Executive Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, said that participating in the GTI offers strategic advantages that Nigeria’s businesses could leverage.
According to Awolowo, they include enhanced market access, increased competitiveness, economic diversification, job creation and poverty alleviation.
“Through GTI, we will revolutionise the way we trade, shifting from traditional methods to more efficient and technology-driven processes.
“By embracing digitization, automation and best-in-class trade facilitation practices, we will position Nigeria at the forefront of the global trade landscape.
“Further, the GTI will provide a platform for Nigerian businesses to network and collaborate with other businesses in the African market.
“The GTI will facilitate business-to-business linkages, enabling Nigerian businesses to identify potential partners and suppliers in other African countries.
“This will foster innovation and knowledge transfer, leading to the development of new products and services and the expansion of existing markets,’’ Awolowo said.
Dr Ezra Yakusak, Executive Director/CEO Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), said that Nigeria’s participation in trade fairs, solo exhibitions, trade missions are initiatives aimed at boasting non-oil export with African countries.
He said that by implication it would promote economic integration within Africa.
According to him the Cairo, Lomé, Nairobi Export Trade Houses and the proposed one coming up in Johannesburg and the spearheading of Nigeria’s participation in trade fairs, solo exhibitions, trade missions are initiatives aimed at boasting non-oil export.
Yakusak added that the collaboration with AfCFTA Coordinating Office and other organisations are targeted at encouraging intra Africa trade as well as increasing Nigeria’s presence and market share within the African continent.