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We are ready to see AfCFTA succeed and invest in Key Infrastructure Projects – Abdul Samad Rabiu

BUA Group boss expressed optimism in the implementation of AfCFTA as he meets with the AfCFTA Secretary-General in Lagos.

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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 transform the African economy and enhance development across the continent. Abdul Samad Rabiu expressed this while receiving the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene and the Acting Director, National Office of Trade Negotiations, Victor Liman at the BUA HQ in Lagos State.

Rabiu spoke in depth 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 amongst Africa 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.

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“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, Wamkele Mene 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.

L-R: Abdul Samad Rabiu, Executive Chairman/CEO, BUA Group and Wamkele Mene, Secretary General AfCFTA during a courtesy visit by the AfCFTA Secretary-General to BUA HQ in Lagos.

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The Speech

“It is also my pleasure to congratulate you on your appointment and on the opening of the AfCFTA secretariat last month in Ghana. I believe the secretariat will further help to facilitate the prompt actualization of the AfCFTA vision.

“As you may already know, BUA is in the business of Foods, Mining, Manufacturing and infrastructure. The Fact that our manufacturing and mining businesses are mostly located in areas that are potentially primed for exports makes the continental free trade area attractive for us here at BUA. For instance, our Cement business in Sokoto, Nigeria is about 1,000kilometres to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and less than a 100kms from the border with Niger Republic, and also our upcoming project in Adamawa is situated at a border town in Adamawa – very close to the Cameroonian border. We are already doing some exports and are putting up a third line in sokoto with at least 70% of its output to be dedicated to Niger Republic & Burkina Faso. Based on these, we are therefore well positioned to take advantage of the agreement and this will also help drive the AfCFTA vision.

“However, for the agreement to succeed, we believe a lot needs to be done and addressed. These include: THE STATUS OF CURRENT REGIONAL AGREEMENTS – FOR EXAMPLE, ETLS, EAC Customs Union, MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE WITHIN THE CONTINENT, DUMPING, PROLIFERATION OF SMALL ARMS AND ILLICIT DRUGS, SMUGGLING, THE TRANS AFRICAN HIGHWAY, PRIVATE SECTOR/AU/GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIPS.

“Mr. Secretary General, I am sure you are well aware that there’s still a high level of distrust despite the overwhelming support for the AfCFTA. One of the causes has been the poor implementation of previous agreements for example, the ETLS – The ECOWAS TRADE LIBERALISATION SCHEME and the EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY

A situation where people cannot move goods produced in African countries where over 90% value has been added to other African Countries is a cause of concern.

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“How do we intend to address these issues? What is the Status of these regional agreements scheme going into the AfCFTA and how do we fix the issues that have beset it especially with regards to free movement of goods and services, tariffs amongst other things.

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“For integration to be successful, we must facilitate free movement via liberalized air travel, operations, and visa-free regimes across the continent for businesses and individuals. Currently, it is more tedious to travel within Africa than from Europe to Africa. This is not the best for business or for integration.

“The current situation where an Australian or Euopean can easily enter an African Country unlike an African gives great cause for concern. As it currently stands, only 25% of Africans can travel visa-free to other African countries whilst another 20% can get visas on arrival. We understand that there are still pending issues with security amongst other things but the Free Movement Protocol of the AfCFTA needs to be pushed with renewed vigor

“The lessons learnt from operating the current regional economic blocs are some of the biggest hindrances to the full acceptance of the CFTA. For instance… Nigeria with its huge population and large economy is a prime target for dumping from smaller neighboring countries however, these same countries do not permit the importation of some 100% produced in Nigerian goods whilst flooding Nigeria with goods/food imported from outside Africa. How do we protect import dependent states and those with high populations from Dumping?

“We understand the need to protect smaller nations and boost fair trade however, measures must be put in place to prevent dumping and promote made in Africa by Africans for Africa trade rather than the current scenario whereby certain countries take advantage of these policies.

“In Nigeria for instance, we have seen it happen with rice and cheap imports from other countries being smuggled and dumped into the country. AfCFTA negotiations must take these into account. The final agreement should be crafted in ways to prevent goods produced and imported from outside Africa (above national consumption needs) benefitting from the pacts. This will in turn prevent the larger countries and the continent from becoming dumping grounds and make smaller countries with value on offer to be less protectionist in nature.

PROLIFERATION OF SMALL ARMS & ILLICIT DRUGS, AND SMUGGLING

Whilst I am in support of liberalizing the free movement of persons across the continent, it is important to acknowledge the security challenges we face from the proliferation of small arms and illicit drugs. This was one of the main issues I believe led Nigeria to close its borders with its neighbors. I daresay that the proliferation of arm, drugs, and smuggling go hand-in-hand. Both are crimes against economic, physical and territorial integrity and security of African Nations. More needs to be done in this regard.

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PRIVATE SECTOR AU PARTNERSHIP & THE TRANSAFRICA HIGHWAY

On private sector involvement, It is our opinion that the Private Sector should be invited by the Governments of Africa and the Secretariat to discuss the way forward for sustainable investments and partnerships.

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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 a coalition that we urge the secretariat to put together on the development of the Trans African Highway, for instance.

As we all know, the Trans African Highway is a 56,600km road network conceived about 50 years ago to develop infrastructure and connect major African cities from North to South and East to West across 9 highways.

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.

“I am personally ready to mobilise 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 with the private sector with support from governments and the DFIs.

“If those 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.

BUA is ready to partner with the secretariat… we are ready to pool our resources to see the continent succeed.

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Corporate Press Releases

Furera Jumare resigns from Union Bank Board following appointment by Jigawa State

Mrs. Furera Isma Jumare has resigned her role on the Board of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc.

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Following her appointment as Director-General of the Jigawa State Investment Promotion Agency, Mrs. Furera Isma Jumare has resigned her role as Independent Non-Executive Director on the Board of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc. This in line with regulatory guidelines precluding certain categories of public servants from serving on boards of banks and other financial institutions.

Commenting on the Mrs. Jumare’s resignation, Board Chair, Mrs. Beatrice Hamza-Bassey, said:

“Since joining the Board in May 2017, Furera has been an invaluable voice in the Boardroom. Her experience and professional counsel directly contributed to our wins in recent years and in helping us navigate challenging times. She also served studiously as the Chair of the Board Governance Committee and Member of the Board Audit and Risk Management Committees. On behalf of the Board, I thank her for her diligent service and wish her much success as she answers the call of service to her State.”

Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Emeka Emuwa, said:

“Furera’s appointment is a clear acknowledgement of her experience and accomplishments in her long career including in her role as Director with Union Bank. The Board and Management are grateful for her service and wish her the best in her new role.”

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 Mrs. Jumare’s resignation is effective immediately.

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Corporate Press Releases

Our website not shut down – First Bank of Nigeria Plc

The management of First Bank of Ni has dismissed rumours alleging that its website was shut down.

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FirstBank Agric Expo sets to promote new agribusiness opportunities

Our attention has been drawn to the tweet making the rounds on social media on shutting down the FirstBank website following a false tweet that the Bank prevented staff from joining the ongoing protests in the country.

As the largest banking institution in Nigeria, it is not unlikely that we may be seen as a target in circumstances such as these. This is rather unfortunate as we believe far-reaching reform is necessary and we have said as much on a number of occasions across our platforms.

In the process of change, some pain will be borne by all and some anger may well be misdirected. We understand this as a part of the process of the struggle.

We have a large staff strength and an even larger customer base who may be affected by any disruption and this would be a pity as a number are also contributing in many ways to ensure that voices are heard and required action is taken.

We have been consistent in our message on the need to end all brutality and carry out necessary reforms. We will continue to lend our voice accordingly.

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Corporate Press Releases

NSE to host industry leaders at Oil and Gas sector webinar

The Exchange is set to host key players across the entire oil and gas value chain at its Oil and Gas sector webinar. 

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The Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE” or “The Exchange”) will host an Oil and Gas sector webinar on Tuesday, 20 October 2020.

With the theme, Perspectives of Operators and Industry Experts Post-COVID-19the webinar will bring together key players across the entire oil and gas value chain to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector as well as its reactions to global trends, government policies, funding dynamics, key challenges and potential shifts. Interested participants can register to attend at  http://bit.ly/nse-oilandgas-webinar.

The event will be headlined by the Honourable Minister for State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Marlin Sylva; the Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dr. Lamido Yuguda; and the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari. It will feature a stellar line-up of global speakers across the public and private sector who will analyse global trends and insights that will shape the future of the Nigerian oil & gas sector, provide recommendations for policymakers, and identify opportunities for long-term growth and expansion.

Speaking about the webinar, the Chief Executive Officer, NSE, Mr. Oscar N. Onyema, OON, noted that, “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt across diverse industries globally and the oil and gas industry is no exception. Today, the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated what was already shaping up to be one of the industry’s most transformative moments, the impacts of which will likely be felt throughout oil’s global supply chains and ripple into other parts of the energy sector. Nonetheless, oil and gas will remain a multi-trillion-dollar market for decades given its role in supplying affordable energy. The question of how to create value in the new normal is therefore fundamental and one that we hope to discuss in this webinar. We envision that the insights gathered at the forum will lead to actionable solutions that can chart a more sustainable future for the oil and gas sector.”

Some of the other confirmed speakers for the event include  CEO, Seplat, Mr. Roger Brown; CEO, Niger Delta Exploration and Production, Dr. Layi Fatona; Chief Investment Officer, Global Energy, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Mr. Olivier Mussat;  Deputy Director, Securities and Investment Services, SEC, Mr. Abdulkadir Abbas; President Association of Issuing Houses of Nigeria/CEO Vetiva Capital Management, Mr. Chuka Eseka; Executive Chairman, Àrgentil Capital Partners, Mr. Adekunle Adedeji; CEO, Ardova Plc, Mr. Olumide Adeosun; CEO, Eterna Plc (Rtd), Mr. Mahmud Tukur; CEO, Axxela Group, Mr. Bolaji Osunsanya; Co-Founder/Partner, Verod Capital, Mr. Eric Idiahi; CEO, Stanbic IBTC Capital, Mr. Funso Akere; Head, Oil & Gas Coverage Renaissance Capital UK, Mr. Alex Burgansky; Oil and Gas Industry Expert, Ms. Rolake Akinkugbe Filani; and Partner and Energy Industry Leader for West Africa, PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC), Pedro Omontuemhen.

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