By Shola Abayomi.
President Muhammadu Buhari has reassured African leaders of Nigeria’s commitment to trade and African integration, after he signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement on behalf of Nigeria yesterday, at the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union in Niamey, Niger.
President Buhari explained that although, it was over a year since the AfCFTA Agreement was opened for signature in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union, on 21st March 2018, but Nigeria needed the full support of the private sector and the public in general for the AfCFTA to succeed, hence, the extensive nationwide consultations and assessments of the Agreement, which reaffirmed its benefits for African manufacturers.
President Buhari said, ‘‘Nigeria wishes to emphasize that free trade must also be fair trade.
‘‘As African leaders, our attention should now focus on implementing the AfCFTA in a way that develops our economies and creates jobs for our young, dynamic and hardworking population.
‘‘I have just had the honour of signing the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), on behalf of my country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘‘This is coming over a year since the AfCFTA Agreement was opened for signature in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union, on 21st March 2018.
‘‘In fact, you will recall that the treaty establishing the African Economic Community was signed in Abuja in 1991.
‘‘We fully understand the potential of the AfCFTA to transform trade in Africa and contribute towards solving some of the continent’s challenges, whether security, economic or corruption.
‘‘But it is also clear to us that for AfCFTA to succeed, we need the full support and buy-in of our private sector and civil society stakeholders and the public in general.
‘‘It is against this background that we embarked on an extensive nationwide consultation and sensitization programme of our domestic stakeholders on the AfCFTA.
‘‘Our consultations and assessments reaffirmed that the AfCFTA can be a platform for African manufacturers of goods and providers of service to construct regional value chains for made in Africa goods and services.”