By Adedapo Adesanya
The Cable Manufacturers Association of Nigeria has tasked the federal government to play a crucial role in breaking tariff barriers for Nigerian companies to maximise the opportunities present for it in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
This was made known by the Chief Operating Officer of MicCom Cables and Wires, Mrs Bukola Adubi, while speaking on a panel at the recent 2022 Practical Nigerian Content (PNC) Forum, which was held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Speaking at the event themed Deepening Nigerian Content Opportunities in the Decade of Gas, she said that based on the tenets of the agreement, it should be a fantastic opportunity for the country.
“For the cable industry, we are seen as one of the industries in Nigeria that are already set up fantastically well. If you ask anyone, they will tell you that made-in-Nigeria cables are fantastic. But then, it will make sense that we are able to transcend beyond Nigeria.
“It will make sense that our members (Cable Manufacturers Association of Nigeria) are able to go into Ghana; are able to go into Ivory Coast; they are able to go into Senegal,” Mrs Adubi said.
She noted that despite the many merits of the AfCFTA agreement, she fears that it may not work because of issues around tariffs and government policies, citing the failure of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) trade liberalisation scheme as an example.
“But then, my concern is with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) trade liberalization scheme. It doesn’t work. And the reason it doesn’t work is that there are so many issues regarding government policies – the tariffs and member country bureaucratic red tape. So, first and foremost, the governments have a huge role to play in terms of breaking these barriers to facilitate effective trade,” she said.
Mrs Adubi acknowledged that although there will be bureaucracy in the implementation of the agreement, several governments must rise to the occasion and ensure that policies are properly regulated to avoid creating another set of challenges for businesses.
“As much as there is going to be bureaucracy, the government has to be there to regulate these things so that it doesn’t create another bottleneck,” Mrs Adubi noted.
“As much as it is, AfCFTA is a huge market asset, a combination of $3 trillion GDP; the number of people you are able to reach is immense,” adding that there is no excuse for Nigeria not to be on top of its game with regards to the agreement.
She quipped that despite the fact that the implementation of AfCFTA began in January 2021, Nigeria had not done much with regard to the implementation of the agreement.
“We need to get our act together for this to work, and it will work,” Mrs Adubi said.
She also noted that playing in the AfCFTA market means that Nigerian companies must be above average because the terrain will be quite different from the in-country market.