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NCC committed to sensitizing stakeholders on AfCFTA Agreement—Danbatta

The Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta, has restated the commitment of the agency in ensuring synergy through strategic collaboration with relevant stakeholders in sensitizing industry stakeholders on the implications of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.

The two-day workshop, which came with the theme: ‘Improving Nigerian Communications Industry Competitiveness for the AfCFTA Initiative,’ is being organized by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in collaboration with the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiation (NOTN), which is a key element of the Governments’ institutional framework for driving Nigeria’s trade policy initiatives.

AfCFTA is an emerging continental trade initiative powered by African economies to drive common interest that will engender seamless cross border movement of goods and services without barriers and Nigeria recently signed off the deal which is expected to kickoff early next year all things being equal.

Nigeria joined the list of African countries to signthe trade pact when President Muhammadu Buhari on July 7th, 2019, endorsed the AfCFTA Agreement at the AUSummit in Niamey, Niger.

In his opening remarks at a two-day sensitization programme for industry stakeholders in Lagos, the EVC recalled that “AfCFTA is an initiative of the Africa Union with the main objective of creating a single continental market for goods and services, in addition to facilitating free movement of investment and people across the entire African continent.”

“Already, the AU has maintained that the AfCFTA will create the world’s largest free trade area. It is also estimated that implementing AfCFTA will lead to about60% boost in intra-African trade by 2022. This is instructive considering the fact that only 16% of international trade by African countries takes place between African countries, according a study by the African Development Bank in 2014.

According to him, “Having attained the milestone of ratification of theAfCFTA Agreement by 22 member states, the Continental Free Trade Area is now the largest trading bloc in the world in terms of participating countries, since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“What all these means, therefore, is that, with the AfCFTA Agreement, the hitherto business algorithm in Africa is going to change, as it will become difficult for any country to be regarded as the largest market in Africa, since the African continent is now going to be seen as one single international trade bloc.

He reminded participants that the workshop is aimed at examining how we can improve the competitiveness of the over $70 billion Nigerian Communications sector market for the Continental Free Trade Area.

Prof Danbatta averred that the workshop, which had taken place in Kano for northern stakeholders’ is being designed to among other things, “raw attention of industry stakeholders to the need to fully appreciate the business implications of the AfCFTA; promote a deep understanding of the AfCFTA Initiative by industry stakeholders, in addition to the institutions that will come into existence following the activation of the Free Trade Area; initiate and lead discussions on areas of comparative advantage for the Nigerian telecoms stakeholders, in addition to developing implementable strategies for market entry and market exploitation for the Nigeria-based Communications businesses and investors”.

He added that part of the targets of the sensitization workshop is to encourage industry stakeholders on the need to seek and exploit opportunities that will emerge in the operational phase of the AfCFTA and use the workshops as an avenue for generating feedback, identifying possible areas of interest for industry stakeholders and evolving a Roadmap for the future trajectory of the industry in the context of the Continental Free Trade Area.

Papers were presented by other relevant stakeholders as participants who spoke to Business Hilights described the programme as rewarding and coming right on time ahead of takeoff of the continental scheme.