Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has identified massive investment in transportation infrastructure as an impetus for African economic resurgence that would facilitate the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement recently signed by the continental leaders.
He made the declaration yesterday during the opening session of the ongoing Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa, taking place in the Egyptian town.
In a statement issued by the Presidency, Buhari advised African countries to emulate Nigeria by embarking on the provision of transport connectivity by enhancing the development of roads, rail, and air links which will ease the free movement of persons, goods and services within the continent.
“We should furthermore promote free trade within and amongst Africa and Africans especially now that we have launched the African Free Trade Area Agreement,” he said.
He stressed that to actualise the Pan-African vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena, Nigeria had taken the strategic decision to close barriers against free movement of people in the continent by introducing the issuance of visa at the point of entry into Nigeria to all persons holding passports of African countries with effect from January, 2020.
Buhari also tasked Africa to take its destiny in its own hands by minimising reliance on donor funding for the execution of its vital peace, security and development agenda. “Nigeria is not only host to our sub-regional body ECOWAS but has also been supporting substantially the ECOWAS budget up to about 60 percent. Nigeria has been funding by almost a 100 percent the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) fighting Boko Haram Terrorists in the Lake Chad Basin,” Buhari said.
He also harped on the fight against corruption and inclusive growth, noting that the menace of corruption undermines the efforts to achieve sustainable development and realise the goals of the AU Agenda 2063.
Buhari once again used the opportunity to draw global attention to the recession of the Lake Chad and its attendant economic consequences for the region.
“The issue of climate change should be given the due attention that it deserves. The effects of Climate Change are at the root of some of the conflicts in parts of the continent. This is why we must focus on the issue of the recharging of the Lake Chad which used to provide livelihood to over forty million people in the region. It is difficult to expect durable stability in the region without restoration of the shrinking lake,” he said.
The Nigerian president urged African leaders to see education as a key tool for the transformation and repositioning of the continent, saying Africa would need to heavily invest in education and capacity building as education creates opportunities and holds the key for a better and prosperous future of the people.