LCCI, MAN SALs, Say COVID, Lack of Infrastructure, Right Policies May Affect AfCFTA Gains

Stakeholders in the nation’s maritime industry have raised alarm over how the surge in the new wave of COVID-19 cases and lack of infrastructure may affect Nigeria’s participation in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

On January 1st 2021, the AfCFTA officially took off across the continent, even though it was originally scheduled to kick off on July 1st last year.

However, six months after the initial date of take-off, key stakeholders in the nation’s maritime industry have expressed doubt about Nigeria leveraging on the gains of AfCFTA even though Nigeria has been regarded as having the greatest advantage.

In a chat with our correspondent, the Director General Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Dr. Muda Yussuf said that, with the spike in Covid 19, the nation’s economy will be depressed again and activities restricted as a result of the pandemic.

He also said Nigeria is still in recession and cannot be out of it until the end of first quarter of 2021; he informed that the recession has affected most manufacturers and stated that many sectors are just gradually bouncing back.

“COVID-19 is affecting everything, its affecting movement, there might be a lockdown soon, the domestic economies o countries have been affected, including Nigeria, some activities are being restricted; COVID 19 is everywhere, and it is depressing the economies of countries of the continent”.

“Also we can't be out of this recession in this quarter. before we can get out of recession we should be looking at 2nd or 3rd Quarter because of all the things that are happening, we never foresaw this pandemic to still remain up till now, that will further slowdown the country, by optimistic projection, we will get out of recession by 2nd quarter” he said.

On his part, the President of Shippers’ Association of Lagos (SAL) lamented that Nigerian government has not put the right policies in place that will attract and protect trade and as well induce wealth for the people, he said if all these are not in place people will do whatever they like

Also speaking, the Vice President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Mr. John Aluya noted that inadequate infrastructure may hinder the country from competing favourably with other Africa nations in the AfCFTA.

“The only worry is the inadequate infrastructure in order to compete favourably with other African nations, our infrastructure must be adequate aside that we have been negotiating with other member countries and we are narrowing down the area of different”

Aluya also noted that the take-off date was shifted from July to January 2021 due to the corona pandemic.

“It was because of COVID that we moved takeoff to Jan 2021 we were supposed to kick off from 1st July 2020, we don't expect Covid 19 to be a hindrance now, we have taken six months to look at COVID and how we can design a way to work through COVID is not a challenge, COVID is everywhere in the world, COVID or no COVID we will move ahead”, he said.

In a recent chat with our correspondent the National Vice President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Agents (ANLCA) Dr. Kayode Farinto, had expressed worries over the kick off date of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

He lamented that the Nigerian government has failed to show commitment towards the actualisation of AfCFTA, which according to him, would be of great advantage to the country if properly managed.