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Nigeria set to start exports to Kenya, others

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By Usman Oladimeji

Exports to other countries under AfCFTA will start officially in April.

Starting from April, Nigeria will be exporting its locally produced goods to South Africa, Rwanda, Cameroon, and Kenya through the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI) under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Nigerian businesses have been exporting products to other countries informally, but starting in April, they will officially begin exporting goods to African nations as part of the AfCFTA treaty. AfCFTA is a free trade agreement that includes 54 out of 55 African Union nations, making it the largest free trade area in the world in terms of countries involved.

Olusegun Awolowo, the Executive Secretary of the National Action Committee on AfCFTA, revealed during the Abuja stakeholders workshop on the AfCFTA digital trade protocol that the program’s secretariat has already implemented the GTI, even though trading under AfCFTA has not officially commenced. We have committed to it and I believe that by the conclusion of April, we will be introducing several companies, ranging from large corporations to small businesses, to begin trading in Africa. Our current focus is finalizing and signing all the necessary protocols, while also strategizing on the best approach to implementation, he explained.

Countries can facilitate their exports from different ports.

Awolowo highlighted that Nigeria will be exporting goods to countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon, and Rwanda as part of the GTI scheme. These countries have also signed onto the trade agreement brought by AfCFTA, which is known to have a quicker implementation process compared to other trade agreements. This initiative allows countries to select companies and facilitate their exports from different ports. After examining the capabilities of the ports, shipments and their cargo, we can conclude that the private sector is ready to invest, Awolowo said.

He noted that the implementation of the AfCFTA protocol signals a major step forward in economic integration and digital advancement. He also emphasized the importance of using digital technologies to boost trade within Africa and promote lasting economic development. As we celebrate this significant milestone, it is crucial that we prepare ourselves with the necessary skills and tools to take advantage of the upcoming opportunities. This, it is crucial for all parties involved, with a special focus on the youth of Nigeria, to adopt the AfCFTA Digital Trade Protocol to stimulate the creation of jobs, increase wealth, and empower society economically.

Guided Trade Initiative aims to enhance continental trade.

The digital economy presents a unique opportunity to empower young people, encourage their entrepreneurial drive, and support their active involvement in the international market. Bashir Maidugu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Legal, Research and Compliance Matters in the Vice President’s Office, recommended that the government should engage young people in digital trade under the AfCFTA. Presently, Nigeria stands as Africa’s biggest marketplace and is currently dominating the digital e-commerce sector. To enhance the Nigerian economy, it is recommended that the government promote the utilization of the AfCFTA by the youth and other professional organizations.

Therefore, It is important for the government to prioritize investing in the skills of these young entrepreneurs, as they are pivotal for the growth of digital commerce. Maidugu said such investments could be directed to universities, research institutes, and e-learning centres to uphold our leadership position and foster further growth. The Guided Trade Initiative aims to enhance continental trade integration by connecting businesses from different states that meet the necessary trading standards. This initiative focuses on facilitating valuable trading opportunities through the import and export of products and businesses between interested parties.

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Also, the GTI focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of the operational, institutional, legal, and trade policy framework within the context of the AfCFTA. The initiative welcomes other nations with verified Provisional Schedules of Tariff Concessions to participate. A diverse range of 96 products such as ceramic tiles, batteries, horticulture products, flowers, avocados, palm oil, tea, rubber, and air conditioner components are eligible for trade among participating countries. Plans are also in place to broaden the initiative by adding more products and participants.

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