The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said that the Nigerian government is yet to sign the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement because of lack of understanding of what was in it for them.
The CFTA was adopted on March 21, 2018 and it seeks to create a single market for goods and services and movement of persons to deepen economic integration of the continent, among others.
At the moment, it has been ratified by 22 countries.
The Director, Industrial and Trade Development of AfDB, Dr Abdu Mukhtar, said this in an interview with newsmen on Sunday.
According to Mukhtar, Nigeria is an important country for the CFTA and for the agreement to be effective useful and really worthwhile, Nigeria has to be part of it.
“I understand the Nigeria government has been making consultations with the private sector, manufacturers association and so on.
“I have been talking to some of these people in Nigeria and I think the reason why they have been skeptical is that they don’t understand what is in it for them.
“So, what we could also do as a bank to provide that support to the Nigerian private sector is to organise a session for them.
“We did that two weeks ago in Abidjan as a test case, brought all the business people in Cote d’Ivoire and neighbouring countries and basically explained to them what the CFTA is.
“They are apprehensive of whether it will benefit them or whether their market will be swollen by companies from other countries.
“So, I think that is the issue, but we are very confident that the Nigerian government will conclude on this consultation very soon and officially join.
“From what we are hearing, I think Nigeria is finalising their discussions with key stakeholders.”
He said the bank was positive about Nigeria and its entrepreneurs and urged it to take advantage of the bank when necessary.
“Nigeria should see it as their own bank, come to us whenever they have good projects that they want financing, especially on the private sector side.
“People think the AFDB only work with government but the key message I will like you to pass on is that we do a lot of private sector business as well.
“And we will like to work more with the private sector business and support their expansion,” he submitted.
Babatunde Alao …