African business tycoon, Aliko Dangote has clarified that he’s not the one preventing the Federal Government from signing Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). While speaking in a panel session at the just concluded Africa Trade forum held in Lagos, the African richest man said he has no reason to prevent the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration from signing the AfCFTA.
According to him, the signing of the AfCFTA would be a plus to his company. Dangote said: “I was in another forum recently and when the Ghanaian president was asked why the AfCFTA has not been signed by Nigeria and he pointed at me, he said they should ask me. Dangote argued that Nigeria is not against the AfCFTA either, pointing out that the regional economic block needs to function properly before a continent-wide agreement can prosper.
“We created the Economic Community of West African States in 1975, but today, it is not working. To take our cement to Ghana today, we pay 38 taxes: 13 in the Benin Republic, 15 in Togo and 10 in Ghana. These increases our cost by 28 per cent,” Dangote added.
The billionaire decried the neglect of critical stakeholders in other African countries in the build-up to the signing of the agreement.
It was reported that President Buhari made an about turn regarding the signing of the AfCFTA act. The President expressed his willingness to sign the act while receiving his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa.
“I am very careful about what I sign, whether it is my cheque book or agreements especially when it involves nation states. I didn’t read it fast enough before my officials saw that it was all right for signature. I kept it on my table. I will soon sign it.” The president was quoted.
Objectives of the AFCFTA
The objectives of the Act include:
- To create a single Market for Goods, Services, and Movement of Persons in order to deepen the economic integration of the African Continent.
- Create a liberalised market for goods and services through successive rounds of negotiations, contribute to the movement of capital and natural persons and facilitate investments building on the initiatives and developments in the State Parties and RECs.
- Lay the foundations for the establishment, at a later stage, a Continental Customs Union.
- Promote and attain sustainable and inclusive social and economic development and structural transformation of the State Parties.
- Enhance the competitiveness of the economies of State Parties within the continent and at the global market.
- Promote industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development, Agricultural Development and Food Security.
- Resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration processes.