The Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Ade Ayeyemi has reiterated that African countries must adopt a continent wide approach to business and also focus on wealth creation to be relevant in the global value chain. According to Ayeyemi, for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to become a reality, there must be commitment and readiness for trade facilitation by the individual nations. He noted that African governments must unequivocal commit to the agreement and their preparedness as individual nations with their implementation strategies, commitment to free movement-signing and ratification of protocol on free movement of people and country’s Visa openness, readiness for trade facilitation – quality of trade infrastructure and efficiency of ports/Customs, which is still work in progress in nearly all countries.
Ayeyemi who was speaking at the Ecobank virtual Regional Trade Conference 2020, noted that Ecobank is fully committed to Africa as the foremost Pan-African Bank to Unequivocally support the implementation of AfCFTA, readiness to use its unique pan-african platform to facilitate trade, payment and business and deployment of its strong Africa knowledge to support governments and businesses. The Ecobank CEO emphasized that “no country is so poor that it has nothing to give and no country is so rich that it has nothing to receive. All of us must come together to become better.”
Also speaking, Segun Awolowo, Executive Director/ Chief Executive, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), said with a market of 1.2 billion people and combined GDP of $3 trillion, there is huge potential for Nigeria to increase its export to Africa. According to him, most of exports had been informal exports, but with platforms like Ecobank, it is going to be formal and add real value to the economy. He said in 2018, the export value of Nigeria to Africa totaled around $6.99 billon but its export to the rest of the world totaled $45.92 billion. However, Nigeria’s export is majorly crude oil and natural gas which constitute 91%.
Mr Awolowo revealed that using the international trade center export’s tool, NEPC has identified areas of untapped potential for Nigeria in Africa such as fertilizer, ginger and sesame, as these are what other African countries are buying. “Nigeria must, and can, live in a world where it no longer sells oil. Nigeria is working on key game changers in infrastructure in order to achieve this, especially in the area of ease of transportation and also in the area of incentives, export expansion grant like pre-shipment incentives and export development fund, which serve to prepare , facilitate and support exporters to the global market”. He stated
Speaking on “International trade, the pan African perspective”, Tei Konzi, Commissioner, Trade, Customs and Free Movement, ECOWAS, represented by Kolawole Sofola, Acting Director, Trade ECOWAS said 85% of our products go outside the continent and this must be changed. “We can bring these trade back to Africa and increase activity in the continent in agriculture, mining amongst others. We are yet to conclude our tariffs, but at the moment, ECOWAS trade more with outside countries than it does with African countries and this is why we are bent on making sure the AfCFTA succeeds”.
He noted that the AfCFTA is a comprehensive trade agreement that seek to create a single market for goods and services and free movement of persons through the progressive liberation of the market for goods and services and also contribute to the movement of capital to facilitate investment. He said it is meant to be the foundation of continental customs union at a later stage.
The Ecobank virtual Nigeria ‘Africa Trade Conference 2020’ which is part of the Ecobank Digital Series is to showcase Ecobank’s unique intra-Africa trade solutions that enable settlements of international transactions and mitigation of payment risk while providing regional solutions to exporters. Ecobank trade products and solutions are designed around two broad areas; Trade Finance and Trade Services. Trade Finance enables customers benefit from adequate and well mitigated credit facilitation in the area of Import finance, export finance, bill discounting, trade loans, distributor finance, payables and receivables finance, structured trade and commodity finance amongst others while trade services, offer our customers the advantage of speedy turn around and error free processing of their import letter of credits, import collections, avalised bills, Customs bonds, export collections as well as their local purchase orders and payment invoices, via our electronic trade platforms OMNI e-Trade and OMNI eFSC (electronic financial supply chain.