The take-off of the Africa Free Trade Zone (AFCFTA), which has been referred to as the world’s largest free trade zone, has been delayed.
According to the disclosure by a senior official of the zone, the implementation of an African Free Trade agreement will not take off on July 1, 2020, as earlier planned due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area, Wankele Mene, said: “The Covid-19 situation has caused a major disruption…Governments are now engaged in a fight against the pandemic.
“It is obviously not possible to commence trade as we had intended on July 1 under the current circumstances.”
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, in July 2019, after delays and consultations with different stakeholders, signed the landmark African Free Trade Zone agreement (AFCFTA). The decision of the country, which is the largest economy in Africa, to sign the agreement was a huge boost to the deal.
READ ALSO: ACFTA a potential game changer for Africa?
The 55 national continental free trade zone would, if successful, create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc, with 1.3 billion people across Africa and constitute the largest new trading bloc since the World Trade Organization was formed in 1994.
Though the agreement is already legally in force, several details need to be ironed out as part of phase one of the process, in order to make a reality, the July deadline for the commencement of trade in goods and services under the new tariff.
The African Union cannot have its earlier scheduled meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa in May, to finalize the agreement, due to restrictions and lockdowns as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Mene said that a new date would be announced by the assembly for the implementation of the agreement.
Free trade agreements are designed to cut trade tariffs among member countries, help make a country’s exports cheaper, and get easier access to other markets. They remove border taxes or trade barriers, get rid of quotas so that there will be no limit to the amount of trades one can do, and so on. These tariffs are usually in the form of taxes.
AGF launches Committee on Financial Transparency Guidelines and Open Treasury Portal
This initiative will provide the public with financial information of all MDAs.
Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation has launched a Committee on Federal Government Financial Transparency Guidelines and Open Treasury Portal to enable Transparency on economic governance policy.
Speaking during the launch today in Abuja, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, FCNA, said the committee would provide the public with financial information of all MDAs to promote accountability and anti-corruption campaign.
The AGF said that the Honourable Minister of Finance and National Planning (HMFBNP) had in July 2018, presented a memo to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the approval to establish the Financial Transparency Guidelines and Open Treasury Portal.
“The approved Transparency Policy provides for Transparency requirements, thresholds and responsibilities as part of Government Policy on accountability in line with Freedom of Information Act 2014.
“The HMFBNP, then constituted the composition of the Quality Assurance and Compliance Committee which membership were drawn from MDAs,” he said.
Idris said that the Committee would implement transparent governance and improve the FG’s whistleblowing programme, which would help Nigerians report financial crimes in the MDAs.
He disclosed that the operations of the committee would be accounted through the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation which will offer its secretariat services to the committee, and enable the committee request information and clarification.
Idris added that the Committee would report to the Accountant General and the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed monthly, citing that the Committee would work transparently “without fear or favour”.
FG meets group to access AfCFTA’s $650 billion market
AfCFTA is aligned to the ministry’s twin national objectives of industrialization and export based diversification.
The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has met with executives of the Nigerian Agribusiness Group (NABG) on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and access the continent’s market worth $659 billion, in mostly manufacturing goods and services.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo during the meeting on Monday.
The minister emphasized on the importance of AfCFTA, as it is aligned to the ministry’s twin national objectives of industrialization and export based diversification. It provides us with a preferential access to African market worth over $650bn, in mostly manufactured goods .
Back story: Nairametrics had reported when Aissata Koffi Yameogo, ECOWAS’ Programmes Officer in charge of implementing AfCFTA rules of origin in the continent, said that the implementation will expand market for the manufacturing industry to 1.3 billion West African citizens, without additional duties and fees.
“It will build production capacity in the region and develop the value chain, and increased export to other African states” she added.
The benefits would also encourage member states to specialise in the production of a certain good where they have a comparative advantage, thus enhancing the quality and quantity of local production and creating more jobs.
He said, “This would improve our competitiveness and the perception of our products and services in the African market. Intra-African trade in Agro products and services will develop our local value chain, create jobs and increase our GDP.”
Today, the Honourable Minister @NiyiAdebayo_ , had a meeting with executives of the Nigerian Agribusiness Group(NABG), on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. pic.twitter.com/GOhVzLVJb2
— FMITI Nigeria (@TradeInvestNG) August 10, 2020
According to International Monetary Fund (IMF), the elimination of tariffs could boost trade in Africa by 15-25% in the medium term, and once fully implemented, is expected to cover all 55 African countries, with a combined GDP of about US$2.2 trillion.
FG to Commission Nigerian Content Development Tower this week
The NCDMB was launched to enable the implementation of the oil gas industry’s content development.
President Muhammadu Buhari will virtually commission the 17-story Nigerian Content Tower of the Nigerian Content Development Development and Monitoring Board (NCDB) in Yenagoa on Thursday.
The building would come with its own 10 Megawatt gas-fired power plant and a 1000 seater conference hall also in the Swali area of the Bayelsa State capital.
“President Buhari will also commission the NCDMB Independent Power Plant constructed in partnership with the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).
“This power plant will provide uninterrupted electricity to the NCDMB structures, the Nigerian Oil and Gas Park being developed by the Board at Emeyal 1 Bayelsa State and select structures in the state,” the agency said.
This power plant will provide uninterrupted electricity to the NCDMB structures, the Nigerian Oil and Gas Park being developed by the Board at Emeyal 1 Bayelsa State and select structures in the state.#NCDMB
— NCDMB (@OfficialNCDMB) August 10, 2020
The agency also announced that the Power Plant of the tower was constructed by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and will ensure 24/7 electricity to the tower and also to “ the Nigerian Oil and Gas Park being developed by the Board at Emeyal 1 Bayelsa State and select structures in the state”.
Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote said that some parts of the virtual launch would be held in Yenagoa, which would be attended by the Minister of State for Petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Malam Mele Kyari and the Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri.
Construction of the tower began in 2015 and was constructed by Megastar Technical & Construction an indigenous engineering company, the agency announced that construction of the tower provided over 250 direct and indirect jobs.
Founded in 2010 by the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act, the NCDMB, was launched to enable the implementation of the oil gas industry’s content development which includes, approving Nigerian content plans for operators, growing the Nigerian Content Development Fund, maintain and operate the Joint Qualification System (NOGICJQS) in conjunction with industry stakeholders, ensure compliance by operators through sourcing of local goods and employment and many others.