The Executive Chairman/CEO, BUA Group, Abdul Samad Rabiu has expressed excitement and readiness to work towards the implementation and success of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement which when fully operational,will transformthe African economy and enhance development across the continent.
Abdul Samad Rabiu expressed this while receiving the Secretary General of the AfCFTA, WamkeleMene and the Acting Director, National Office of Trade Negotiations, Victor Offiong at the BUA headquarters in Lagos State.
Rabiu spoke about the current status of regional agreements from the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) to the East African Community (EAC) Customs union, dumping, proliferation of small arms and illicit, smuggling, the trans-African highway and Private sector/African Union/government partnerships – noting that these areas were critical to the success of the AfCFTA.
He specifically said due to the poor implementation of regional trade agreements, there is a high level of distrust amongstAfrica nations despite their support for AfCFTA. He expressed serious concern over “a situation where people cannot move goods produced in African countries where over 90% value has been added to other African Countries”.
In proffering solutions to the problems, Rabiu said for the AfCFTA integration to be successful, there must be free movement through liberalized air travel, operations, and visa-free regimes across the Africa continent for businesses and individuals.
He also emphasized that Private Sector must be invited by the Governments of Africa to discuss the way forward for sustainable investments and partnerships noting that the private sector has a lot to offer the continent saying,
“For cross border trade to work, everyone – governments, private sector and DFIs must be willing to collaborate fast to fix infrastructure to spur growth. BUA is interested in being part of these effort and we also urge the secretariat to look into a private-sector led development of the Trans African Highway.”
“I am personally ready to mobilize like-minded businesses across the continent with the resources required (steel, cement, etc.) to do these roads at a concession and guaranteed by sovereign African nations. This can be done by the private sector with support from governments and the DFIs. Why don’t we for example partner with various governments and engage the Special Envoy for Infrastructure in Africa, H.E. Ralia Odinga and take the Mombasa – Lagos Highway into consideration.
The Lagos-Mombasa Highway 8 is about 6,259kms or 3880miles and is contiguous with the Dakar – Lagos Route.If these roads are actualized, imagine the number of jobs that will be created as well as the amount of trade that will be facilitated as a result.
“We are more than excited about the possibilities of the Free Trade Agreement for us, Nigeria and the entire continent of Africa – now more than ever. The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, if actualized and harnessed properly, will help spur development and trade within Africa like we have never witnessed before”. Rabiu said.
On his part, the Secretary General AfCFTA, WamkeleMene said the issues raised by Abdul Samad Rabiu were top priorities of the AfCFTA and added that opportunities will be created for the Africa private sector to boost intra-Africa trade