By Anthony Ailemen
The African Export-Import Bank, Afrexim, has pledged $40 billion to boost inter-African trade in the next five years. And as a result President Muhammadu Buhari has called for a higher level of commitment from all stakeholders to tackle the slow pace of physical integration, political cooperation and tariff barriers that inhibit business integration in Africa.
The President made the call in his address at the second African Sub-Sovereign Governments Network (AFSNET) Conference in Abuja, organized by the Afreximbank in collaboration with the Secretariat of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
At the event, President Buhari decried the low-level trade among African countries, saying AfCFTA will succeed if the region’s governments demonstrate a higher level of commitments.
“It is a bitter reality that Intra-regional trade still accounts for a very tiny fraction of total trade in Africa,” Buhari said. ‘’We have to understand that if this new drive towards a continental free trade area is to succeed, we must demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackle the slow pace of physical integration due to geographic and political fragmentations, the pace of political cooperation, and difficult tariff and non- tariff barriers that inhibit business integration.”
The President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Afreximbank, Benedict Oramah welcomed the need for deliberate action to remedy the continued reliance of Africa on external trade partners, noting that the AfCFTA provides the platform to do that.
Pledging the commitment of Afreximbank, Oramah said the bank “has disbursed over $20 billion in the 5 years to 2021 in support of intra-African trade and on the way to double this to $40 billion in the next 5 years.
‘’We have supported the AfCFTA Secretariat through current funding; launched in collaboration with the AfCFTA secretariat and AU Commission, the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) to support payment for intra-Africa trade in African currencies.”A USD 3 billion facility for clearing and settlement is available for a continent-wide operation of the system. We have also launched the African Collaborative Transit Guarantee Scheme to enable goods to move across borders easily,” he said.
The Minister of Trade and Investments, Niyi Adebayo, in his remarks, said the African Continent must continue to adjust to the new realities if the continent will liberate its citizens from poverty. Adebayo, while citing the Russia/ Ukraine war, called on the sub-national government to strengthen inter African trade, in the current wave of globalization.
Nigeria eyes $350m, 110,000 jobs from sugar expansion
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the second phase of the National Sugar Master plan, a 10-year plan billed to save $350 million yearly and create 110,000 jobs. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, disclosed this to State House Correspondents after the weekly FEC meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to Adebayo, besides the foreign exchange (forex) savings and job creation targets from the second phase of the master plan, Nigeria also looks forward to saving $65.8 million on ethanol import and generating 400 megawatts (Mw) of electricity. While stating that investment in national sugar policy was aimed at stimulating self-sufficiency in the commodity, Adebayo said no fewer than 15,000 jobs have been created through key players in the industry. The minister listed Dangote, BUA, Golden Sugar mills among key stakeholders jointly owning about 200,000 hectares of sugarcane plantation in the country.