The Federal Government of Nigeria on Wednesday ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) membership at the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the President, Muhammadu Buhari.
President Buhari signed the AfCFTA agreement on July 7, 2019, in Niamey Niger, during the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union.
The ratification which came ahead of the December 5, 2020, deadline set for all countries to ratify their membership, was disclosed by The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Trading under the AfCFTA Agreement was due to commence on 1 July 2020, but as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, this date has been postponed. It has been indicated that the new date for operationalization is 1 January 2021.
AfCFTA was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations, with Eritrea being the only country that has not signed the agreement. The country said the reason is that they did not participate in the negotiations due to their conflict with Ethiopia at the time.
The aim of AfCFTA is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union.
About 30 countries have both signed and approved ratification of the AfCFTA Agreement, including Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Niger, South Africa, Uganda, Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), Senegal, Togo, Egypt, Ethiopia.
The Nigerian government also disclosed the ratification in a tweet via its official Twitter handle, saying that with approval, “the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice will now prepare the AfCFTA Instrument of Ratification for assent by President Buhari and onward transmission to the African Union.”
With today’s FEC approval, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice will now prepare the AfCFTA Instrument of Ratification for assent by President @MBuhari and onward transmission to @_AfricanUnion.
— Government of Nigeria (@NigeriaGov) November 11, 2020
The minister said, “The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment presented a memo today (Wednesday) asking the Federal Executive Council to ratify Nigeria’s membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Nigeria has a lot to gain from AfCFTA with increased access to its goods and services to a wider African market, if the economy is functioning properly with a better ranking on the ease of doing business index.
However, with the current economic situation and the unfavourable state of electricity and roads to businesses coupled with the high rate of unemployment, many feared increased regional integration would lead to unfair competition for jobs and the goods they produce.
By; Ifunanya Ikueze