The Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) on Thursday, June 10, 2021 held its Business Advocacy Roundtable themed: “AfCFTA: Will the Agreement revolutionize the Nigerian Economy?”.
The advocacy roundtable provided insights and highlighted the potential opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA) to the Nigerian economy, and how Nigerian business can leverage the benefits. Speakers at the event were Francis Anatogu, Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA; Demitta Gyang, Senior Advisor, Customs, AfCFTA Secretariat; Ken Opara, Executive Director, Fidelity Bank Plc; Akinbiyi A. Abudu, Tax Leader for West Africa, EY; Olaoluwa Ajala, Senior Associate, Advocaat Law Practice; and Anne Rinu, Chairperson of the NBCC Advocacy Committee and Head, Property (Nigeria and West Africa), Standard Chartered Bank as the moderator.
Delivering the welcome address, the Deputy President of the Chamber, Mrs Bisi Adeyemi, noted that the Agreement presents economic integration that will require structural changes for it to succeed as well as increase competition, improve GDP and income per capita in the economies of its member countries.
Mr Anatogu in his remarks affirmed that the AFCFTA agreement has the potential to prepare Nigeria for the post-oil world as it is focused on diversifying the Nigerian economy by making every Nigerian state economically viable and create jobs at every level. It is an ambitious project that would liberalize product lines, harmonize policies and regulations across African countries. Mrs Gyang continued by reiterating that the AfCFTA agreement is the one single instrument within the African Union that has gathered such political will from African leaders. and has the power to lift over 100 million Africans out of poverty by 2035, bridge gender parity and double intra-Africa trade by up to 52%.
Speaking on Small Medium Enterprises, Mr Opara expressed that the agreement relative to the intra-trade statistics in other parts of the world; will be a revolution, a majority game changer and a quantum leap for small businesses. From the legal perspective, Mr Ajala opined that Nigeria needs to put effort to ensure implementation of its justice system to boost investor confidence.
Mr Abudu mentioned that the agreement gives an opportunity to close a significant area of disparity in comparison with a lot of multinational corporations; by having indigenous companies step up to operating in numerous jurisdictions to narrow the gap in terms of competition within Africa. He expects to see a lot of changes particularly in terms of supply chain management execution in the most efficient and optimal manner from a tax perspective. He also recommended that Nigeria look into signing double taxation treaties with other African countries.