By Adedapo Adesanya
Financial technology companies (FinTechs) will benefit massively from the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), says Nigeria’s National Action Committee on AfCFTA.
The team, which is in Lagos on a visit to sensitise stakeholders in the media, manufacturing, trade, and financial services sector, said the deal will help all members get preferential market access over non-members.
According to Mr Francis Anatogu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Sector Matters, the agreement hopes to create a single market for well-produced goods and services on the continent.
He added that the adopted multilateral contract will afford signatory countries access to a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $3.4 trillion.
“With over 1.27 billion consumers and an aggregate GDP of $3.4 trillion, which AfCFTA is expected to help deliver, we are convinced that this will be a game-changer for the African business community, which Lagos state and Nigeria currently plays a leading role.
“We, therefore, encourage fintechs to take advantage of this initiative,” Mr Anatogu said.
Speaking on the timeline for the delivery of the deal, Mr Anatogu, who doubles as the Secretary of the National Action Committee, explained that it was a gradual process that would be delivered over time.
The AfCFTA agreement requires members to remove tariffs from 90 per cent of goods traded, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent and the elimination of tariffs could boost trade in Africa by 15-25 per cent in the medium term.
Answering questions on the likely impact of this on the country’s revenue generation, Mr Anatogu explained that over time, the country would get on its feet as AfcFTA fits into Nigeria’s economic diversification objectives because it provides huge export opportunities on the continent for products manufactured in Nigeria and services rendered by local businesses.
He added that there was the situation of increased variety as imports become easier and cheaper, consumers will gain access to a variety of products that are inexpensive as tough competition will make countries produce more products they are most efficient at.
Lagos Commits to AfCFTA
The Lagos State Government on Tuesday pledged its readiness to AfCFTA after a delegation paid a courtesy visit to the Governor of the state, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja.
Mr Sanwo-Olu said, “I assure you that Lagos is not just the commercial or economic nerve centre by mouth, it’s also so that we can take that leadership role in the comity of states and lead effectively. We need to scale up infrastructure, capability to be able to take full advantage of what the entire African economy has to offer our country and state.
“With almost a billion population and a total Gross Domestic Product, GDP that is over 3 trillion I think it’s a ready-made market for us as a nation and in Lagos, in particular, to be able to take advantage.
“It’s no small feat being the largest cosmopolitan in Africa and we do not take it for granted, we know that we can be home to everybody and so we want to build that capacity which can only be possible if we have enough infrastructure and understanding what is expected of us.
“Over the weekend, we inspected the Lekki ports and see the things we are doing at the free trade zones. We looked at the refinery and fertilizer plants and all the opportunities that abound in the zone.
“Lagos indeed is getting ready because of the ports, which create about 20 to 30 per cent of GDP ( for big economies). Lekki port will open up Nigeria to international and African businesses more, both for import and export.
“The Apapa and Tincan Ports can only take 4,000 MTUs as the biggest vessel that can come there but the Lekki port, once completed by last quarter next year, is 18,000 MTU that’s about four times. This means that in both ways we can receive a lot more imputes and take more.
“So, mark to business will be quicker and faster and we see also developing the entire infrastructure that is required to do this business, road, power and extensive community engagement so that they are ready and able to take full advantage of the opportunity.
“We are happy it’s still a 5 to 10 years first phase, and we know that though we don’t have all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted, but in another 12 months, am sure Lagos will be fully ready. “We are also intervening in power, off-grid capacities, buying meters for our people so that we can be ready.
“This is the largest investment in fintech in Africa, we are not just collaborating with the private sector, we are also enabling startups on a yearly basis, we will approve another set for some of our tech startups, granting them funding as seed for them to come up with creative ideas, some of them even get international recognition, so we are getting ready on all platforms.
“We are building another terminal at the airport, thanks to the federal government, and this attracts a sizeable percentage of international travel.
“We are doing a 3000 kilometres metropolitan fibre optics connectivity to grid Lagos. Once we get this right. What is required for telecom companies, small businesses, to rise and use it for security, health services, education and other platforms that can be the future that we see?
“Our vision and programs sit with what AfCFTA is all about and we see your committee as partners. We want our people to think local but act global so they can have the opportunity to send their goods and products to every part of Africa and the world.
“We will work with your team, set up a local action committee where we can have a one-stop-shop for the private sector on information, guidelines, understanding what is expected of them so that this thing can take footing quickly and Nigeria can take its full benefit.
“We want others to enjoy the benefits, but we are not a big nation for nothing. We want to take the full benefits but also to open our markets for others to access.”
The blockchain brings new financing options to the business market. For example, Bitcoin Cash casino has adapted to only using cryptocurrency. This way, it makes it easier for their customers to deposit and withdraw in a BCH casino. Entrepreneurs have taken note of this and are looking to invest more in crypto than in fiat markets.
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