As reactions continue to trial Nigeria’s decision not to ratify the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), framework agreement signed by 44 African countries last week, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has said that the deal, “will stimulate intra-African trade by up to $35 billion per year, creating a 52 per cent increase in trade by 2022; and a vital $10 billion decrease in imports from outside Africa.”
The AfDB, which stated this in a statement by its President, Akinwumi Adesina, pledged full support towards the success of Continental Free Trade Area deal.
“Free trade will bring collective benefits and shared wealth for all African nations, especially the landlocked countries. So, we must accelerate investments in regional and national infrastructure, especially, to boost connectivity, reduce costs and raise competitiveness,” Adesina said.
He applauded the African Union Commission, the Economic Commission for Africa, the negotiators, and the CFTA Champion, Mahamadou Issoufou, the President of the Republic of Niger, for doing an excellent job in making the initiative a reality for Africa, noting that regional integration and trade based upon the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital is at the core of the business of the African Development Bank.
“This is Africa’s time and Africa can no longer be ignored. Africa’s food and agriculture market will hit $1 trillion by 2030. Household consumption will hit $2.5 trillion, with business-to-business expenditure at $3.5 trillion by 2025. There’s no doubt, Africa is where to invest,” President Adesina stressed.
According to Adesina, that is why infrastructure features prominently in the Bank’s High 5 priorities to ensure that no country is left behind in its efforts connect Africa’s 54 countries into a mutually profitable free trade area.
In the last five years, the Bank’s commitments to infrastructure have totaled more than $12 billion, mostly in cross-border transport, energy, finance and ICT connectivity and the Bank has worked closely with its partners to identify and undertake regional infrastructure projects under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) with a $10 million grant.
“Africa is open for business. The days of aid are over. We are now on a highway to boosting Africa’s prosperity, through greater trade and investments ‘without borders’ among our nations,” the AfDB boss said.
It will be recalled that despite the Federal Executive Council’s (FEC) support for the CFTA, President Muhammadu Buhari, refused to sign the agreement , on the grounds that his administration will not be in a hurry to enter into any agreement that would make the country a dumping ground and jeopardise its security.
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