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Columnists

Why advocacy is the key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria

How do we begin to address this slow progress and ensure that Nigeria is on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030?

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 aspirations for economic, social, environmental and political prosperity that every country in the world is enjoined to achieve by 2030.

The SDGs were launched by the United Nations in 2015 to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the previous global goals whose timeline ran from 2000 to 2015. They were designed to address all the shortcomings of the MDGs, which experts often criticized for their limited scope and lack of sufficient quantitative benchmarks.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are No Poverty; Zero Hunger, Good Health, and Well-being; Quality Education; Gender Equality; Clean Water and Sanitation; Affordable and Clean Energy; Decent Work and Economic Growth; Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; Reducing Inequality; Sustainable Cities and Communities; Responsible Consumption and Production; Climate Action; Life Below Water; Life on Land; Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; and Partnership for the Goals.

In addition, each of these 17 Sustainable Development Goals has a number of targets that help us to narrow down our focus to specific deliverables. Furthermore, each target has at least one indicator that helps us to quantify and evaluate actual progress. For example, Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) has 12 targets, including “Diversify, innovate and upgrade for economic productivity” whose indicator is “Annual growth rate of real GDP per employed person.”

Why are the SDGs so critical to Nigeria’s immediate and long-term development? The SDGs’ strength and promise lie in their comprehensiveness. They cover almost all facets of development, from healthcare to education to poverty reduction to innovation, so much so that if we are able to record a 70% success rate in achieving the SDGs, we will be taking a giant leap in our development as a country.

Despite their instrumentality to the accelerated and all-inclusive development of Nigeria, we are not on track to achieve the SDGs, barely 10 years away from the due date. Most of the indices are not positive. Poverty rates, for instance, have continued to rise exponentially, as shown in recent reports by organizations such as Oxfam and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). According to the World Poverty Clock, an estimated 105 million Nigerians – or 51% of the entire population – currently live in extreme poverty.

Unemployment and underemployment rates, especially among the youth, are also in an upward trajectory. The Nigerian workforce, especially its burgeoning youth population, needs to be gainfully employed for the country’s poverty rates to come down.

From the environmental perspective, deforestation and desertification have continued to spread almost unabated, threatening the country’s rich but fragile biodiversity and the livelihoods and very existence of the people living in the worst affected areas in the process.

These challenges have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic, which brought unprecedented disruptions that hit the income levels of many individuals, private and civil society organizations and the government hard and undermined their ability to mobilize the financial and non-financial resources needed to implement the SDGs.

How do we begin to address this slow progress and ensure that Nigeria is on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030? We can start by addressing the first things first. A major factor that has impeded progress towards the SDGs in Nigeria is the low level of awareness among Nigerians about what the SDGs really are.

The average Nigerian simply does not know what the SDGs mean and, consequently, does not appreciate their importance. If you ask 10 random people on the streets of Lagos or Abuja or Onitsha or any other city in Nigeria what the SDGs are, chances are that at least 9 of them will be completely lost.

Due to the way that they are structured, the SDGs cannot be achieved in Nigeria – or in any other country for that matter – without getting buy-in from everyone. The SDGs agenda is not just for the government or NGOs or the private sector alone to implement. Each individual must play his or her own role within his or her own sphere of influence in the workplace, at home and in the community.

Therefore, the foundational step towards the achievement of the SDGs in Nigeria should be raising awareness and empowering the populace with information about the SDGs that will enable them to understand why the goals are relevant to their wellbeing as individuals and to the economic, social and political development of Nigeria. With the right information and enlightenment, the average Nigerian will become an advocate of the SDGs and he or she will self-mobilize to play an active, critical role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Nigeria.

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Mainstream mass media platforms, especially the social and broadcast media, should be deployed to furnish Nigerians with information about the SDGs. SDG-focused organizations should be empowered to do more advocacy and spread the message to the grassroots and the nooks and crannies of the country. SDGs programmes should also be made part and parcel of the curriculum of schools in Nigeria, at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Only when these and similar initiatives are implemented can the achievement of the 2030 Agenda begin to look like a reality in Nigeria.

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While awareness creation or sensitization alone is not the solution to Nigeria’s poor performance in the SDGs, it is the necessary first step. To reemphasize, because of the way that they are structured, the SDGs cannot be achieved without the active involvement of everybody, including the general public, businesses, the civil society and the government.

It goes without saying that people can only take action when they are empowered with the information that helps them to understand why this matters not only in the grand scheme of things, but also to their aspirations as individuals.

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About the Author

Chinedu Nnawetanma is a business strategist and development enthusiast currently working with one of Nigeria’s largest financial institutions. He is passionate about the empowerment of the private sector, especially SMEs, to drive the economic growth and development of Africa. He writes on a wide range of subject matters, including entrepreneurship, youth empowerment, the SDGs and financial literacy.

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Nairametrics frequently publishes articles from experts such as financial analysts, economists, researchers and investors. We also feature articles from guest writers and bloggers who wish to push their views and opinions through our platform.To get your articles on Nairametrics, kindly send an email to [email protected] and we will publish it within 24 hours of approval by our editorial team.

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Columnists

AfCFTA: The underlying principles, objectives and benefits

The fears around the issue of dumping and border security should not outweigh the huge benefits that AfCFTA offers to the member-states.

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The Agreement (the “Agreement”) establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (the “AfCFTA”) has continued to generate discussions following the commencement of trading under the new economic bloc. The Agreement was signed on 21 March 2018 at the Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union held in Kigali Rwanda and came into force on 30 May 2019 after the Gambia became the 22nd State to ratify it.

Nigeria signed the Agreement on 7th July 2019 and after initial dilly-dallying, ratified it in November 2020 leading to the formal deposit of the Instrument of ratification before the 05 December 2020 submission deadline. Paradoxically, Nigeria (34th member State to ratify the treaty) who was at the forefront of developing and negotiating the AfCFTA Agreement later became jittery at the point of ratification. The initial hesitation has been explained on the basis that prior consultation with the manufacturing community and other stakeholders was needed before ratification.

COVID-19 pandemic delayed the phase 2 negotiations and commencement of trading under AfCFTA which was earlier scheduled to start on 1st of July 2020. Trading eventually kicked off on 1st January 2021 and it is too early to assess the impact of trading yet particularly as some countries are yet to ratify the treaty. The AfCFTA has been lauded as a game-changer and ambitious project capable of lifting over 30 million people out of poverty on the continent, through trade liberalization and economic integration in line with the Pan African Vision (Agenda 2063) of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.

In terms of structure, the main Agreement is divided into 7 Parts and 30 Articles. In addition, there are Protocols, Annexes and Appendices which equally form part of the AfCFTA Agreement. Three of these Protocols are (i) the Protocol on Trade in Goods (ii) the Protocol on Trade in Services, and (iii) the Protocol on Rules and Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes. Article 8 of the Agreement is to the effect that the Protocols, Annexes and Appendices shall, upon adoption, form integral of the Agreement.

Read Also: AfCFTA: NESG advises FG to strengthen domestic value chains

The Phase Two Negotiations for both Trade in Goods and Trade in Services include (i) the Protocol on Investment (ii) the Protocol on Intellectual Property and (iii) the Protocol on Competition Policy as well as the associated Annexes and Appendices. As common with most treaties, the AfCFTA Agreement is expected to be organic as future amendments and updates are possible, provided that any additional instruments deemed necessary are to be concluded in furtherance of the objectives of AfCFTA and shall upon adoption, form an integral part of the Agreement.

Modelled after the principles of the World Trade Organization/General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and General Agreement on Trade in Services (WTO/GATT/GATS), the AfCFTA has some of the trappings of custom union and common market even though one of the AfCFTA objectives is the creation of Continental Customs Union at a later stage. Conceptually, economic integration is broadly classified into five stages, viz: free trade area, Custom union, Common market, Economic union (single market) and Political union.

One key feature of Custom Union being the acceptance of a unified external common tariff against non-members. The European Union presents a unique example of the Customs Union through the instrumentality of the Union Customs Code which applies a uniform tariff system for imports from outside the EU. Unlike the Custom Union, the AfCFTA under its rules on Most-Favoured-Nation Treatment allows member States to conclude or maintain preferential trade arrangements including different tariff arrangements with Third Parties provided that such trade arrangements do not impede or frustrate the objectives of the Protocol on Trade in Goods. By default, WTO member countries trade based on conditions laid down under GATT.  It is in a bid to address the tariff and non-tariff barriers existing under the WTO, that some regions have opted for more favourable trade deals as seen in Europe, Asia, North America and now Africa.

As with any WTO-based trade treaty, there are key non-exhaustive underlying principles that underpin the AfCFTA. Some of these principles will form the subject of our discussions in subsequent publications. These include (i) the Most-Favoured-Nation Treatment and (ii) the Rules of Origin. Whilst the former mandates the State Parties to accord preferential treatment to one another, the latter spells out criteria for goods that will be eligible for preferential treatment under the AfCFTA. Equally important is the Anti-dumping and Countervailing Measure which provides trade remedies and remedial actions against imports which are detrimental to local industries. In relation to the Trade in Services, the Most-Favoured Nation exemptions afford State Parties a margin of leeway to exclude certain sectors or sub-sectors from their Schedule of Commitments and limit market access to those sectors or sub-sectors.

Read Also: FG outlines steps to be taken by businesses to export to AfCFTA countries

Key Objectives

The overarching objective behind the AfCFTA is the elimination or reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers amongst the 54 Countries that agreed to be members of the bloc by providing a single market for goods and services, facilitated by movement of persons in order to deepen the economic integration and prosperity of the African continent. This key objective is to be achieved through successive rounds of negotiations that are to be done in phases.

In specific terms, the Agreement also seeks to (i) lay the foundation for the establishment of a Continental Customs Union; (ii) promote and attain sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, gender equality and structural transformation of the State Parties, (iii) enhance the competitiveness of the economies of State Parties within the continent and global market, (iv) promote industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development, agricultural development and food security, and resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration processes. In order to actualize these noble objectives, Article 4 of the Agreement mandates State Parties to:

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  • Progressively eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in goods;
  • Progressively liberalise trade in services;
  • Cooperate on investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy;
  • Cooperate on all trade-related areas;
  • Cooperate on customs matters and the implementation of trade facilitation measures;
  • Establish a mechanism for the settlement of disputes concerning their rights and obligations; and
  • Establish and maintain an institutional framework for the implementation and administration of the AfCFTA.

There is no doubt that the actualization of these objectives will put Africa on the part of economic posterity and industrialization. It is expected that each State Party should demonstrate commitment, sincerity, and integrity in dealing with other member States. The success of the European Union and other similar regional trade blocs has shown that with the right political will and commitment from member-states, regional trade deals as seen in AfCFTA often contribute to the economic development of the participating region.

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Benefits

The AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade zone since the establishment of the WTO in 1994 and offers a lot of benefits to member States particularly those with competitive advantage and enabling infrastructures. Africa has a population of 1.3 Billion people and a combined GDP of over $2.6 Trillion (more than 6 times of Nigeria’s GDP). According to the Brookings Institution’s report, intra-African trade accounts for 17 percent of Africa’s exports compared to 59 percent in Asia and 69 percent in Europe.

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The report projected that the removal of tariffs if well implemented could boost intra-regional trade up to 50 percent by 2040, from the current 17 percent. Nigeria has a competitive advantage in a number of sectors and stands in a position to benefit from the newly enlarged market. This will further increase investment in the distribution and logistics supply chain as cross-border trades will spiral up. Nigeria’s increasing unemployment rate of over 30% which has been made worse by the pandemic is expected to reduce when trading starts in commercial quantity.

Read Also: Digital transformations and AfCFTA as critical imperatives for the rebound of African economies

The AfCFTA will progressively reduce trade tariffs by over 90% by 2022 and by extension address the increasing inflation and infrastructural deficits within the continent. Nigeria, being the largest economy in the continent with strong service sector should position itself to benefit from the economies of scale that will follow the localization of industries. Oil refineries, cement, agriculture, food processing, minerals, banking and financial services, aviation, information technology and legal services have been identified as some of the critical sectors where Nigeria has competitive advantage.

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The fears around the issue of dumping and border security should not outweigh the huge benefits that AfCFTA offers to the member States. Rather, this should be a wake-up call for Nigeria to invest heavily in rail and road transport, port infrastructure, border security, internal security, electricity, education, and other enabling infrastructures. The last border closure was largely attributed to the issue of dumping and security as it was alleged that Nigeria was amongst other things being swamped with fake and sub-standard goods mostly from Asian countries through the Benin Republic.

The AfCFTA Rules of Origin provision is meant to address this, and it is hoped that the AfCFTA member States should demonstrate the political will to ensure strict compliance. While the regime of Trade in Goods appears to be taking shape, particularly with the commencement of trading early this year, the progressive framework for the negotiations of specific commitments by the member-states in the area of Trade in Services, should afford Nigeria the platform to ensure that the service sectors benefit from the huge opportunities provided under the AfCFTA.

 

Prince I. Nwafuru, MCIArb (UK)

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Lagos, Nigeria

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Columnists

Repricing of yields reduces activity level in January

For foreign investors, outflows fell to N30.8bn (US$78.3m) compared with N48.8bn (US$124.5m) in December.

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dollar foreign debt, Foreign investors trapped in the debt market as dollar scarcity persists, U.S dollar gains, America sanctions Chinese Airlines from flying into the U.S. , U.S dollar gains, America sanctions Chinese Airlines from flying into the U.S., U.S Dollar Remains Firm, Global Investors Rush Into Safe Haven Assets

Based on the data released by the NSE on Domestic & Foreign Portfolio Investments for January 2021, total value fell 13.7% m/m to N232.5bn (US$590.8m) from N269.2bn (US$687.1m) in December 2020. Furthermore, total value declined 1.27% y/y to N232.5bn (US$590.8m) in January 2021 from N235.5bn (US$600.8M) in January 2020.

Activity level among domestic investors decreased 7.2% m/m to N184.9bn (US$470.0m) while foreign investor transactions also took a dip, down 32.0% m/m to N47.52bn (US$120.78m). Domestic investors still retained dominance of trading activities on the local bourse as their share of total transactions in January stood at 79.6%.

On the domestic front, transactions were dominated by institutional investors who traded N117.5bn (US$298.6m) while retail investors executed transactions worth N67.4bn (US$171.4m). Notably, the volume of transactions declined 14.9% m/m at the institutional level contrary to an increase of 10.16% m/m at the retail level.

For foreign investors, outflows fell to N30.8bn (US$78.3m) compared with N48.8bn (US$124.5m) in December. In the same vein, foreign inflows decreased to N16.7bn (US$42.5m) in January from N21.1bn (US$53.9m) in December, resulting in a net outflow of N14.1bn (US35.7m) compared with a net outflow of N27.6 (US$70.5m) in December.

Looking ahead, for as long as yields in the fixed income space continue to rise, the equities market will continue to take a hit in our view. In the near term, we believe good corporate earnings and dividend announcements will support some stocks in the equities market. We, however, expect FPIs to retain apathy towards the Nigerian market in the short term, though the inability to source FX for repatriation may continue to force reinvestments.


CSL Stockbrokers Limited, Lagos (CSLS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of FCMB Group Plc and is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria. CSLS is a member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

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