Editorial: Africa’s giant has made a big mistake in snubbing #AfCFTA
The objections being raised by a handful of countries, Nigeria included, to the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, #AfCFTA demand very robust analysis.
According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) the implementation of the just signed African Continental Free Trade Area #ACFTA agreement has the potential of increasing intra-African trade by 52 percent in four years time.
In our view, this bigger picture makes #AfCFTA an almost inescapable reality that all African nations ought to fully embrace now. And Nigeria will no doubt pay for not logging in in good time. By the time we are eventually railroaded into it (and this newspaper is almost too confident that this will ultimately be the case), countries like South Africa, Rwanda, etc would have gone very far! Or has someone not already seen what Rwanda has for example done with its fledgling airline in just a few years!
And by the way, the talk about more time for consultations is just that: plain talk. Signing onto the treaty today does not automatically mean opening your borders tomorrow. It is the beginning of a process that will involve going ahead to set up implementation timelines and modalities as well as getting national parliaments to ratify same before they come into effect. That could take the better part of five years; enough time to deal with the bottlenecks of today. But then because there is no global embarrassment involved as in the ‘ease of doing business’ matter, we demur. Must we do this to ourselves once again?
Can’t we look at the bigger picture to see that Nigeria being the largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa will be the biggest beneficiary of any continental trade growth. Besides, this treaty has been on the drawing board for decades! When the Lagos Plan of Action was being drawn up in 1980, it was already in the pipeline! We have had all the time in the world but failed to grow up!
And buying more time would not automatically bring us the yet elusive growth! We simply do not have the will yet to deal with the issues of our lack of growth. See the Auto Policy of the Jonathan era! It has been dumped for all practical purposes! We are treating ill-performing power firms with kid gloves. We continue to wobble and fumble over any plans to maximise secondary production of our crude petroleum asset. I really think that at this point, we may need to be reminded once again that dinosaurs were real big; but they are now extinct! While ants live on!
Commendably, 44 of the continent’s 55 nations have presently signed on. Let the others please work on clearing their extant objections so they also can sign on when another opportunity beckons in Mauritania in July.