Nigeria & the AfCFTA
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), inflation rose from 12.56% in July to 14% in November, driven by soaring food prices caused by insecurity and trade restrictions with other African countries. You would also have to consider the impact of products blocked from crossing Nigeria’s land borders. Thus far, situations have worsened since the pandemic as the Naira officially devalued for the third time this year, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had adjusted its value by N6 against the dollar. On the 30th of November, the parallel market responded to a new devaluation of the Naira, selling at N500/$ at the black market amidst growing foreign exchange liquidity.
As Nigeria prepares for the commencement of the AfCFTA in January 2021, there are expectations that the agreement will save the country from its current situation. Nigeria is a few days away from the selected commencement date, yet many things that will support the full utilization of the AfCFTA are to be concluded and resolved. Discussions on the ratification view the intending re-opening of the land borders as a major pre-requisite for the implementation of the AfCFTA. Though the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, recently stated that the land borders will soon be re-opened; there are still stakeholders that share an opposing view.
Nonetheless, the agreement expects to change the business landscape at the same time, increase investment opportunities. The Federal government will need to promote export-driven reforms to benefit significantly from the AfCFTA, and take account of the following;
- Development of Nigeria’s infrastructure, especially around the movement of goods and services.
- Targeted policies aimed to facilitate competitiveness.
- Reformed regulations that support business growth and institutions, demonstrating better appreciation for investment promotion.
In conclusion, the Instrument of Ratification was expected to be deposited with the African Union Council (AUC) at Addis Ababa on the 1st of December, 2020, as disclosed by the Nigerian Trade Office. Nigeria can benefit from the trade agreement in agriculture, ICT, professional service exports, etc. It must face the reality that it must be prepared to compete with other African countries for the 1.2 billion market share whether the borders are opened or closed.