President Muhammadu Buhari receives the President of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa during an audience at the State House Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE.

By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa has declared that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would provide integrated and diversified markets that would unlock Africa’s full productive capacity.

Nigeria is yet to sign into AfCFTA, which already has 49 African countries as signatories.

In a keynote address at the annual meetings and 25th anniversary celebrations of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in Abuja, Ramaphosa said that the AfCFTA held enormous opportunities for the growth of the economies of the African continent.

He stressed the need to address the continent’s infrastructure deficit and to pursue industrial development.

In his address, President of Afreximbank, Dr. Benedict Oramah welcomed the signing of the AfCFTA agreement by 44 African nations in Kigali in March, adding that it would accelerate the integration of Africa markets, foster regional value chains and promote dynamic competitive advantage across Africa for certain kinds of goods and boost employment.

According to him, “It is important that the AfCFTA be thoroughly debated so that everyone would understand the opportunities it offered and the obstacles that needed to be overcome.”

In her address, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun said that continued infrastructure improvements and a focus on trade, particularly regional trade, would drive sustainable growth.

Adeosun commended Afreximbank for its role during the last global recession when it supported many African countries with trade support and lines of credit at a time others were withdrawing from Africa.

More than 100 speakers including Heads of State, ministers, central bank governors, heads of international organisations, business leaders, African and global trade development experts, and academics, are speaking  during the four-day annual meetings and 25th anniversary celebrations.