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Business News of Thursday, 30 September 2021

Source: www.thisdaylive.com

AfCFTA’s single market projection targets tariff elimination, lifting of African businesses - Ojakol

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The Chief of Staff of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Silver Ojakol, has faulted the consumption pattern of African consumers, which appears to tilt more towards patronage of foreign goods over and above made in Africa goods.

He has also pointed out that high custom rates, restrictions and avoidable barriers among African countries are frustrating business growth in the continent, hence the need for tariff liberalisation to help remove some barriers to investment in the member states, and allow the private sector to be able to do more business.

Addressing participants at the Africa Rising 4, a regional virtual conference of the International Advertising Association (IAA), held on Tuesday, which was put together to project African brands to the world, Ojakol expressed his regret that African brands have remained thwarted because majority of African consumers consume what they don’t produce.

He said, “How can we grow the African economy when we are not patrons of African brands? It has been said and established often and often that most of our people consume what they don’t produce but I think the time has come for us to consume what we produce and produce what we consume. It is through such patriotic consumer approaches that we can impact positively on our economy,”

As part of the AfCFTA’s resolutions, the Ojakol pointed out that the free trade area, which was established by the 55 member states of the African Union, was committed to creating a single continent-wide market for goods and services as well as promoting the movement of capital and natural resources on the continent.

He explained that the member states in their agreement aims to reduce all trade costs and enable Africa to integrate further into global supply chains by eliminating a substantial percentage of tariffs and focusing on outstanding non-tariff barriers to enhance a single market with free movement of goods and services.

“Cutting red tape and simplifying customs procedures will bring significant income gains. Beyond trade, the pact also addresses the movement of persons and labour, competition, investment and intellectual property, ”the Chief of Staff added.

Speaking further, he stated that AfCFTA isn’t just a trade agreement but a development instrument for the continent to promote industrialization, infrastructure, and investment, among other lofty projections.

Ojakol pointed out that the agreement was put together to encourage trading across the borders and that considering the population within the continent of about 1.3 billion people, with a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion, AfCFTA is determined to bring stability in the trading and investment environments.

Earlier, the World President and Chairman International Advertising Association, Joel Nettey stated that the conference was important to the rediscovery of the potential of African markets and brands.

Beyond population, which appears to be the major inviting factor luring in foreign investors into Africa, Nettey said the continent is blessed with many other factors, including human resources to grow businesses.

Also speaking at the conference, the Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, said the financial sector, as a platform for economic development, has played the unique factor of stimulating the continent’s economy through partnership with various stakeholders.

Global Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications at First Bank Limited, Folake Ani-Mumuney, identified good business leadership, technology and partnership with the SMEs as essential tools needed to grow African brands and the continent’s economy.

According to her, corporate bodies, especially in the financial sectors should provide good leadership that would be all encompassing in the area of partnership and empowerment. She made reference to how banks and other organisations rose to the occasion at the peak of the dreadful COVID-19, by cushioning the effect of the harsh economy brought about by the pandemic through empowerment of consumers.