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Three factors withholding Nigeria from aligning with AfCFTA dream unmasked

Rising from a day quarterly Business Intelligence Discuss (BID) on African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), organized in Lagos on Monday by Business Hilights Online Publications, experts in development economics, have listed three key factors weakening the President Muhammadu Buhari’s pen in signing the AfCFTA treaty.
Conferees smoked out commodities/primary products offerings, low industrial output and dearth of manufacturing enabling infrastructures.
Experts said the factors are now running against Nigeria’s plans to participate in the continent’s market integration agenda which the country ab-initio played a major role from initiation to development of framework.
Observers say even though none ratification of the scheme is putting at stake Nigeria’s share of the $80 billion targeted intra-Africa trade deals, which would be facilitated by the take off of the agreement in the next three years, Nigeria as it stands now, cannot perform any form of magic that will make it gain anything if it signs the treaty.
According to the Chairman of the BID, Barr Monday Akor, “AfCFTA is a good policy that will effectively deepen industrial competition across African economies, but only nations with strong industrial development background before now, can gain and I do not think that Nigeria, upon our size, has what it takes to gain from the treaty”.
“Economies do not necessarily grow based on size, but based on indices that support growth which include access to capital, infrastructure, ease of doing business, tax regime, education, healthcare and national leadership quiescence.
In his submission, Akor averred that “For Nigeria to truly become fit to seal the treaty without being hurt, it needs over five years of carrying out unhindered infrastructure upgrade and seamless access to capital that will widen industrial capacities that will lead to surplus productivity which will in turn spur export tendencies”.
“This is so, because you cannot export what you do not produce and cannot stand the competitive firepower of smaller but well organized African economies that can flood their products in Nigeria in want of the market which we have in excess”.
Earlier in his address of welcome, the founder and publisher of Business Hilights, Prince Stan Okenwa thanked President Buhari for not rushing Nigeria into the AfCFTA basket, saying “Even though industrial players are struggling to survive alongside SMEs, opening up our borders in the name of ‘Big Brother Africa’ will hurt the struggling industries and collapse SMEs because as it is, many Nigerian products cannot stand the African market price of their products when the competition coming with AfCFTA starts”.
He therefore called on the federal government to push up capital expenditure so as to deepen infrastructure base of the economy.
He explained further that intra-African trade encompasses trade in goods and services between or among African countries and between Africa and Africans in the Diaspora.
Okenwa also advised the government to continue to delay the move to sign the treaty even though the technical committee appointed by government was mooted to be finalizing recommendations in favourable of the scheme.
Currently, about 44 countries out of the 54-nation continent have been boarded into the initiative that is expected to increase trade efficiency among the African economies, with goals of increasing volume, value, productive activity and employment, as well as individual and collective Gross Domestic Product growth.
The scheme is expected to take off in the next three years.