President Muhammadu Buhari has rued the low-level trade among African countries.
The President spoke on Friday in Abuja at the second African Sub-Sovereign Governments Network (AFSNET) Conference, organised by the Afreximbank in collaboration with the secretariat of AfCFTA and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
He said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would succeed if African governments demonstrated a higher level of commitment to tackle the slow pace of physical integration, political cooperation and tariff barriers that inhibited business integration.
”As leaders, we must all be concerned that we are not trading enough amongst ourselves. It is a bitter reality that intra-regional trade still accounts for a very tiny fraction of total trade in Africa.”
”I am firmly convinced that with the right collaborative action, we will be able to record a much stronger pace of transformation.
”Through shared knowledge, innovation and creativity, we will be better able to cater for the needs of the African continent’s population of over 1.4 billion people,” the President said.
He urged the conference to use the network and support provided by pan-African institutions as a platform for the exchange of ideas, knowledge and skills.
Buhari, who commended the organisers of the conference for demonstrating innovative thinking by taking the AfCFTA to the grassroots, also hailed the President of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, and his team for committing US$250 million as seed capital towards the establishment of the AFSNET.
He said the initiative spearheaded by Afreximbank was aimed at establishing and deepening intra-continental trade investment development frontier for Africa, facilitating the reduction in the continent’s dependence on exports of primary commodities as well as minimising the risks experienced due to strong reliance on global value chains.
Buhari also commended the outgoing Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, who recently emerged as the President of the Forum of Règions in Africa, for embracing this initiative and being at the forefront of sharing and exploring opportunities that improve production and trade facilitation activities with his peers in the region.
The President, who spoke on the challenges the continent had encountered since he took office as President in 2015, said: “As leaders, we must summon the political will required for development.”
”…we must increase our efforts in our fight against cybercrime, money laundering, drugs and arms trafficking, smuggling of persons and the reckless destruction of our precious wildlife.
”These and more we must do in order to engender a safe and productive environment for all.”