President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has called on Nigeria not to delay in signing the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) that seeks to create unhindered access to markets by Africans across member countries.
The CFTA will bring together 54 African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion.
Nigeria, South Africa and five others African countries last year refused to sign the agreement sighting various reasons. Nigeria did say it needs time to consult relevant stakeholders before signing on.
Mr Ramaphosa at the 25th anniversary celebrations and annual meeting of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), holding in Abuja, Nigeria disclosed that the 31st Session of the AU Assembly in Mauritania just over a week ago, South Africa joined its counterparts in signing the agreement.
Forty nine countries including South Africa have signed the AfCFTA leaving out just six countries that include Nigeria. He said Nigeria and South Africa are critical to the success of the trade policy thus Nigeria should sign on soon as possible.
“No pressure Nigeria, take your time but don’t take too long to sign the CFTA, Africa is waiting” he said.
Responding on the call to sign on, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun said Nigeria is about concluding on the consultations. She said: “We must consult. Nigeria is a federation of states, local governments and various stakeholders. So we must go through the process of consultations. That is what we are doingnow and that means Nigerians decision must reflect the views across the country.”
“We must never be in a hurry to get things wrong, we must get things right. So we must follow all through the due process and that’s simply what we have been doing,” Adeosun noted.
President/Chairman of the Board of Directors, Afrexim Bank, Dr. Benedict Oramah said the bank is “creating infrastructure that will help boost trade. In Nigeria we’re developing a testing and certifications Centre so that getting qualified for exports is no longer an issue.”
He said by 2017, Afrexim had approved more than $60 billion in credit facilities to African businesses.