Stakeholders in the Nigeria telecommunication sector, including the Nigeria Communications Commission(NCC); the industry regulator, are foreseeing huge benefits in the recently rectified African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement; a deal expected to improve intra-African trade, enhance economic growth and sustainable development on the Continent.
The treaty is a major economic boost and competitive advantage for the over $70 billion Nigerian telecommunications market in the Continental Free Trade Area.
According to the Chairman of the board of Nigerian Communications Commission, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) arrangement will extend access of communications services to 1.2 billion people across the African continent.
Speaking during a sensitization workshop for the communications industry on the implications of the AFCFTA initiative, he said that the agreement is a big deal for the sector hence stakeholders should tap into it.
The two-day workshop with the theme; “Improving Nigeria’s communication industry competitiveness for the AFCFTA initiative”, was organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in collaboration with the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiation (NOTN).
According to Durojaiye at the forum there is no limit to the achievement by innovative operators/investors in terms of business opportunities with a larger proportion of the population made up of young people, whose hunger for data and mobile services continues to grow.
He noted that in line with the Federal Government’s objectives, NCC is committed to ensuring that the sector continues to improve on its contribution to GDP and by extension the Nigerian economy.
“Through its direct contribution to the GDP and the indirect contribution to the performance of other sectors, the Telecommunication sector is indeed a facilitator of economic development.
“This sensitization workshop is to engage with stakeholders, with a view towards crafting achievable recommendations and solutions that will guarantee positive growth, development and prosperity for our industry, the Nigerian economy, and the African continent.
“Just the way we recognize the opportunities for investors in the African market, we also know that there are challenges not to say threats. Operators and investors within the Communications ecosystem must fully appreciate these dynamics, in order to ensure that they prepare adequately for them.
“At the end of the workshops, we expect to come out more informed about the AfCFTA Initiative, and better prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.
“We believe that with good planning and implementation, Nigeria and the African continent will be better off with the Continental Free Trade Area arrangement,”
The Nigeria telecommunication chief further advise other African countries who are signatory to the trade to “adopt and eventually evolve our own indigenous programme of development and investors in both Local and Foreign should appreciate the efforts to improve on the overall security and ease of doing business in the continent,” he said.
On his part, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the AFCFTA would facilitate free movement of investment and people across the African continent, adding that it would provide the opportunity for Africa to create the world’s largest free trade area.
Represented by the Commissioner for Science and Technology in Lagos State, Hakeem Bobola, the Governor said the trade agreement marks a new dawn to Africa’s economic transformation, explaining that Nigeria’s economy stands to benefit with the creation of this single market.
He urged the Nigeria communication industry to leverage on the provisions of AFCFTA to the advantage of Nigeria’s telecom industry, saying it remains one of the major factors to fully drive the digital economic revolution in the country.
“it is a new hope for boosting Intro-Africa trade across African countries with a combined population of the people. The anticipated benefits will only remain a mirage if we fail to prepare adequately by repositioning the key sectors of our economy to be competitive and able to take optimum advantage of the opportunities presented by new market.
“To enhance the sectors competitiveness in the emerging single market, a lot of efforts must be put into improving the efficiency of service delivery,” he said.
Meanwhile, the submission of the Executive Vice Chairman NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danvatta, is that implementing AfCFTA will lead to about 60% boost in intra-African trade by 2022.
Represented by NCC Director of Licensing and Authorization, Alhaji Muhammad Babajika, Danbatta further explained that only 16% of international trade by African countries takes place between African countries, according a study by the African Development Bank in 2014.
He noted that the ongoing workshop is aimed at examining how to improve the competitiveness of the over $70 billion Nigerian Communications sector market for the Continental Free Trade Area.
He said, “The workshop is to draw the attention of industry stakeholders to the need to fully appreciate the business implications of the AfCFTA, promote a deep understanding of the AfCFTA Initiative by industry stakeholders, initiate and lead discussions on areas of comparative advantage for the…
“Nigerian telecoms stakeholders, encourage industry stakeholders on the need to seek and exploit opportunities that will emerge in the operational phase of the AfCFTA and to use the workshops as an avenue for generating feedback, identifying possible areas of interest for industry stakeholders and evolving a Roadmap for the future trajectory of the industry in the context of the Continental Free Trade Area.
“The workshop is a key element of the Governments’ institutional framework for driving Nigeria’s trade policy initiatives the Federal Government’s aspirations to advance Nigeria’s economic development through continuous encouragement of pro-trade, pro-business, pro-investment and pro-export measures are in sync with the mandate of the NCC to stimulate investment and economic activity by protecting the interest of the Government, investors and consumers within the Nigerian Communications ecosystem,” he said.
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(L-R): Acting Director General Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations, Liman Victor Liman; Director Licences and Authorization, Nigerian Communications commission, Mohammed C. Babajika, representing the Executive vice chairman NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta; Commissioner for Ministry of Science and Technology Lagos, Hon. Hakeem Fahm, representing Governor of Lagos State; Board Chairman NCC, Sen. Olabiyi Durojaiye; Member House Committee on Telecommunications, Hon. Isiaka A. Ibrahim, during the Stakeholders Sensitisation Workshop for the Communications Industry on the Implications of the African Continental free Trade Area (AFCFTA) Initiative yesterday 13th November 2019 at the Four Point by Sheraton Lagos.