By Dipo Olowookere
Delegates at the recently-concluded 2018 Africa Trade Forum held in Lagos have agreed that while governments need to set a conducive environment through collective and coordinated actions for the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the private sector should be the main driver of the policy.
During the event, they also agreed that complementary interventions to boost competitiveness and reduce the high costs of doing business on the African continent would be crucial to ensure win-win gains from the AfCFTA, saying these will require proactive policies and programmes in the areas of infrastructure, financing, skills development, trade facilitation and quality infrastructure.
According to the Economic Commission for Africa’s Regional Integration and Trade Division Director, Stephen Karingi, while summing up the major takeaways from the forum, “In implementing the AfCFTA we must also make sure not to forget MSMEs, women traders, smallholder farmers and informal cross border traders, who represent the majority of Africa’s trading community, and are crucial to driving poverty reduction efforts.”
Delegates agreed the establishment of new business models, including renewable energy mini grids, was key to ensure efficient and sustainable access to electricity and help fill the existing gap.
“The recommendation is that we should promote new and reinforce existent sub-regional power pools within the continent,” Mr Karingi said.
Data, delegates agreed, was critical for the implementation of the AfCFTA. Countries, regional economic communities and the African Union Commission need to understand trade patterns to determine the correct strategies. Data is also central to the monitoring of the AfCFTA.
“Africa needs to design a data economy strategy to ensure that it is not vulnerable through data exposure caused by data storage in other regions. The combination of data and technology can address the challenges around formalisation of trade,” added Mr. Karingi in his closing remarks.
On agriculture, delegates said the AfCFTA by integrating African economies, offers opportunities for the continent to reduce its food imports from the rest of the World by increasing intra-African trade of processed agro-food products. For this to happen, effective implementation of the Agreement is key, in addition to removing non-tariff barriers to trade. Critical to this is to create an environment that will support small farmers and small producers (SMEs) to have timely access to markets, both output and input markets.
Speaking at the forum, Rockefeller Foundation’s Vice President, Global Policy and Advocacy, Christine Heenan, emphasized the importance of partnerships in ensuring the AfCFTA was a real game changer in Africa.
She said an online poll commissioned by Rockefeller was very compelling with more than 83 percent of respondents from across the continent saying the AfCFTA was important for Africa’s development. The poll is open until December 31.
“Engaging stakeholders remains very important,” she said, adding the poll meant a lot in terms of inclusivity of common African voices in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
The Rockefeller Foundation, Ms. Heenan said, believed and relied on its partners for collective action that leads to progress on the continent.
In his closing remarks AUC’s Trade and Industry Commissioner, Albert Muchanga said six African countries have not yet signed the AFCFTA but two were expected to do so by December.
“African countries have resolved and are committed to making the AfCFTA a reality and there is no going back. We have to continually beat the challenges and use opportunities to come up with solutions,” he said.
Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe, Nigeria’s Chief Trade Negotiator, said to build a free trade area, Africa has to be at ease with the process of sincere debates on its trade policies.
“The European Union dealt with a lot of continuous debate for a long period of time. African countries need to work on consensus building, being at ease with challenges on ideas, methodologies and processes in order to be at ease with the negotiations process, “Ambassador Osakwe said.
On the next steps, Mr Karingi said the ECA with financial support of the EU was offering technical assistance to support Member States in developing comprehensive AfCFTA National Implementation Strategies. These strategies will: Identify new opportunities for diversification, industrialization and value chain development; identify current constraints to intra-African trade which must be addressed; recommend steps required for each country to take full advantage of national, regional and global markets in the AfCFTA context; align to existing policy frameworks at the national, regional and continental levels; and adopt a nationally-driven multi-stakeholder participatory approach.
The Forum highlighted the crucial importance of advocacy, consultations and consensus-building on the continent around its major programmes.
Mr Karingi thanked Nigeria and the Government of Lagos State for hosting the forum and for their dedicated support and collaboration in the lead up to this Forum.
“Although Nigeria has not yet signed the AfCFTA, it is in many ways many steps ahead in ensuring that the Agreement is a real game changer for economic transformation and development,” he said.
The Africa Trade Forum, which was held under the theme; AfCFTA Ratification and implementation: A game changer for African economies, was co-organized by the ECA, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Nigerian government in collaboration with the AUC.
FCT Administration Disburses N2.6bn to Area Councils, Others
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has disbursed a total of N2.6 billion to the six Area Councils in the FCT and other stakeholders as their share of statutory allocation for the month of June 2021,
The figure shows that there was a minimal drop in revenue from N2.7 billion disbursed in the month of May to N2.6 billion in the month of June.
This was disclosed by the FCT Minister of State, Mrs Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, who presided over the 155th Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) meeting.
She appealed to council chairmen and stakeholders to show understanding and make judicious use of the allocation.
The minister explained that the decline in the allocation was a result of the drop in the statutory revenue allocation from the federation account.
Giving a breakdown of the spending, the sum of N773.6 million was made available for distribution to the six area councils, while the sum of N1.9 billion was made available to other stakeholders, bringing the total sum to N2.6 billion.
However, distribution to area councils shows that the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), received N188.5 million, while Gwagwalada got N177.6 million and Kuje received N108.5 million.
Also, Bwari Area Council received N84.7 million, Abaji got N117.5 million and Kwali received N97.1 million bringing the total sum to N773.6 billion disbursed to the six area councils.
Furthermore, distribution to other stakeholders includes Primary Teachers which gulped N1.6 billion, 15 per cent Pension Funds took N226.5 million, One per cent Training Fund gulped N26.6 million, while 10 per cent Employer Pension Contribution gulped N107.8 million, bringing the total sum to N1.9 billion.
Geodrill Supports Tamale SHS Science Lab Complex
Geodrill Ghana Limited, an exploration drilling go company in the mining sector, has presented a cheque of GH¢150,000 to the OLD TAMASCANS Association (OTA) in Accra.
The amount is Geodrill’s contribution towards equipping the Tamale Senior High School Science Laboratory complex to a state-of-the-art facility for use by the current and future students of the school.
Mr Beninett Yaw Quist Awume the Interim Chairman of the Old Tamascans received the cheque from the CEO of Geodrill in the presence of some alumni of the school.
Making the Presentation, the Chief Executive Officer of Geodrill Ghana Limited, Mr Dave Harper, explained that the donation forms part of the Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and also as a way of giving back to society.
Mr. Harper revealed that Tamale Senior High School was picked because of the good relationship that he shares with one Dr Ali, a prominent member of Old Tamascans.
The company recently also made a cheque donation of GH¢150,000 to Support the Achimota Senior High School Science Lab Complex.
Mr Dave Harper encouraged other companies to take their Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) obligations seriously and support worthy institutions to fulfil their mission. He expressed hope that science education in Tamale Secondary School, would set the students on the path to successful adult careers so that they can contribute meaningfully to the development of Ghana.
He furthered that Geodrill was committed to being a socially responsible company that actively promotes social causes such as education, training of Ghanaian youth and also to provide support for science laboratories in schools in Ghana.
Receiving the cheque, the Interim Chairman of the OLD Tamale secondary school Association, TAMASCANS, Mr. Beninett Yaw Quist Awume, expressed his profound gratitude to Geodrill Ghana Limited towards helping equip Tamale Senior High School Science Laboratory Complex.
According to him, the donation is very dear to their heart. He promised that they will make good use of the money and make sure that the project gets completed on time. “It will come to completion and we will look back and say Geodrill Ghana Limited has helped Tamale Senior High School to progress,” Mr Awume
Mr Awume, also called on other Institutions, Non-governmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations to emulate Geodrill’s example.
“We look forward to receiving more donations from other companies to sustainably fund the provision of science education and other programs for the benefit of our students,” he said.
Osinbajo, Jonathan, Others for GbaramatuVoice 6th Anniversary
By Modupe Gabdeyanka
Several top personalities led by the Vice President of Nigeria, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, will be at the 6th anniversary of GbaramatuVoice Newspaper slated for Tuesday, August 10, 2021, by 10:00am, at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos State.
Other important guests expected at the ceremony include former president Goodluck Jonathan, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.
A statement issued by the Publisher and CEO of the newspaper, Mr Jacob Abai, stated that other dignitaries for the anniversary lecture/Niger Delta awards include traditional rulers, captains of industries within and outside the country, executives of International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the country, public office holders from the Niger Delta region, leaders of specialized groups in Nigeria, among others.
He said the anniversary/lecture has its central theme as Dwindling State of Crude Oil Demand in the Global Market: The Way Forward, noting that it will centre on critical new research themes as sustainable development goals in the Niger Delta. Its deliberations will address all spectra of analyses including the oil and gas industry.
Mr Abai further said the event, the third in the series, comes after similar ones held at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, Rivers States.
It has a rich history of promoting national unity, recognizing the good works of various individuals that have positively imprinted their names in various areas of endeavours while contributing to the life chances of humanity.
List of eminent Awardees made up of Nigerians and Non-Nigerians drawn from different sectors of human endeavours through rigorous but transparent process shall be made known to the general public in due course.
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