AfCFTA Provides Enormous Opportunities In 2021, Experts Say

Some economic experts say the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) portends enormous opportunities for Nigeria in 2021.

They spoke during an interactive zoom webinar by the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce with theme “ 2021 Economic Outlook’’.

Mr Bismarck Rewane, Managing Director and CEO at the Financial Derivatives Co Ltd., said: “The Nigerian economy had some pre-existing conditions before COVID-19.

“The year 2021 is going to be different because we are going from disruption to eruption.

“Nigeria is about 60 to 65 per cent of the ECOWAS region and  we have  AfCFTA; we also have the European partnership agreement between ECOWAS and European Union.

“However, the AfCFTA will be a key area in 2021.

“With the AfCFTA, intra-African trade will increase from 20 per cent to 50 per cent over time. It is also expected that the GDP of the country, which is about $2.6trn now, will to go $29trn by 2050.’’

Rewane said that AfCFTA would also provide huge opportunity to boost non-oil export earnings in Nigeria.

“It will also create an open path to resuscitate idle refineries to meet the domestic and regional demands for refined petroleum products.

“It will increase market access for locally-made goods as well as expand trade, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

“The AfCFTA could also lead to a significant change in Nigeria’s trading partners to include more African countries,’’ he said.

According to him, the nation, in 2021, will be taking advantage of the AfCFTA, especially with the reopening of the borders.

He noted that as part of the economic outlook in 2021, the rationing of foreign exchange would reduce, the Central Bank of Nigeria would be selling more foreign exchange and there would be exchange rate adjustments.

Also, Mr Innocent Ike, Acting Managing Director of Polaris Bank, said that 2020 was an unprecedented year with the COVID-19 shocking the world and shutting  global economies and activities from second quarter.

He said that economic activities at the global level were not fully back because of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ike said that with the country’s land borders open, however, there is the AfCFTA that provides enormous opportunities for the nation.

“The opportunities are in the agriculture value chain, manufacturing value chain, infrastructure and digital space,’’ he said..