Monday, August 26, 2019

AfCFTA Implementation Strategies-Part-7: The Commitment

This is the seventh in the series of ten parts articles on the AfCFTA implementation Strategies. This edition is focused on Commitment on the part of the government. The commitment of the president and all the government agencies are very critical element in the implementation programme. This needs to be demonstrated to the private sector in order to encourage them to invest their time, energy and money to take full advantage of the AfCFTA. To demonstrate this commitment, the presidency needs to put this in the front burner in all the activities of the president by mentioning it in all his economic related speeches at different functions and programmes he attends within and outside the country. This will make his ministers to be able to give the required support to the AfCFTA implementation committee and therefore ensure that their ministry, departments and agencies are not a clog in the wheel of progress of the AfCFTA.

I strong believed the first step that the government needs to take as a way of demonstrating commitment towards the AfCFTA is the appointment of a Special Assistant (SA) on Trade Across Borders who will work directly with the AfCFTA implementation committee by attending all their meetings, presenting their requests to the presidency and liaising with the various heads of ministries, departments and agencies to get the necessary cooperation and approvals. This special assistant is going to be a critical success factor in the implementation of AfCFTA because it will speed up the submission and approval of request at the presidency due to the fact that he is on ground to represent the implementation committee and follow up on the government for necessary approvals.

Secondly, the government have to demonstrate its commitment towards the implementation of AfCFTA by making deliberate policies that will encourage the exporters to want to export to African countries. This can be done through executive orders and acts of the parliament. Going by the timetable of the AfCFTA secretariat, the trading under this agreement will commence from August next year. That means the government have an ample time on its hand to put in place the right policies that will support the implementation of the AfCFTA. 

One of these policies must include incentives. Considering the high level of infrastructure deficit that any business operating in Nigeria has to contend with and the attendant increase in the cost of doing business that ensue, the government must of necessity put a system in place to give incentives to exporters. These incentives should come in the form of single digit loan for all exports going to Africa countries under the AfCFTA, rebate on air and sea freight, warehousing, local transport, duty on importation of raw materials and other statutory taxes. This is to ensure that Nigerian products are competitive in the African market. There should also be a deliberate policy towards the setting up of dedicated AfCFTA export terminals at major ports across the country. This is to ensure that goods being shipped under this scheme are examined for compliance and also given speedy clearance.

One of the major challenges being faced by the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) which has consequently led to the low utilisation of the scheme is the inefficient processes that exporters need to go through in order to get the certificate of origin that makes their products eligible for the duty free access under the ETLS. In order to demonstrate its commitment to the successful implementation of the AfCFTA, the government needs to ensure that the process of obtaining the certificate of origin under the AfCFTA is fully automated, streamlined with paperless documentation, an online platform for tracking and feedback on the progress of application, devoid of any form of human interaction besides the visit to the production facility to ascertain the claim of the criteria for the rule of origin.

Also, it is very important to state that one of the factors that could prevent Nigeria and Nigerians from enjoying the benefits of AfCFTA is product quality issues. The committee must demonstrate its commitment to prevent the exportation of low quality products under the AfCFTA by ensuring that it closely works with the relevant government agencies at the port, especially the Nigeria Customs Service, to ensure that all goods to be shipped under AfCFTA are routed via the AfCFTA designated terminals where they will be inspected for quality assurance before they are shipped to final destination on the African continent. Another way of demonstrating commitment to the successful implementation of the AfCFTA in  Nigeria is putting in place a policy that ensures the participation of the private sector in the Monitoring of items that are being imported into the Nigerian markets duty free under AfCFTA. There should also be punitive measures put in place to ensure that any government agencies or individuals that is aiding and abetting unwholesome practice that will undermine the efforts of the AfCFTA implementation committee is brought to book.

What is the use of all the effort being deployed by the government and the implementation committee if the manufacturers cannot get to promote their products in other African countries simply because of the cost and logistics challenges? The government have to demonstrate its commitment to the AfCFTA by organisation solo exhibition in different countries on the African continents by partnering with Chambers of Commerce in the destination countries and also supporting Nigerian businesses with funds needed to participate in these various promotional programmes 

The areas of commitment described in this article are not exhaustive but are very critical and therefore worthy of consideration by the AfCFTA implementation committee. It is my hope that the implementation committee of the government will adopt some of the recommendations that are been prescribed in this article in order to make the implementation of the AfCFTA create the necessary jobs that will lift out of penury, the tens of millions of Nigeria that are currently living below the poverty line

For the love of Nigeria, Africa and Mankind.
Bamidele Ayemibo (
Lead Consultant at 3T Impex Trade Academy

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