‘Africa Must Think Continental, Focus on Wealth Creation’

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By Oluchi Chibuzor

The Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Ade Ayeyemi has reiterated the need for African countries to adopt a continent-wide approach to business and also focus on wealth creation.

This, he said would make businesses in the continent to be relevant in the global value chain.

According to Ayeyemi, for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to become a reality, there must be commitment and readiness for trade facilitation by the individual nations.

Ayeyemi, who spoke at the Ecobank virtual Regional Trade Conference 2020 held recently, said the bank was fully committed to Africa as a pan-African financial institution.

He said African governments must unequivocal commit to the continental agreement.

He stressed that Ecobank would unequivocally support the implementation of AfCFTA, expressing readiness to use the bank’s pan-african platform to facilitate trade, payment and business and deployment of its strong Africa knowledge to support governments and businesses.

The Ecobank CEO emphasised that, “no country is so poor that it has nothing to give and no country is so rich that it has nothing to receive. All of us must come together to become better.”

Also speaking, the Executive Director/ Chief Executive, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Segun Awolowo, said with a market of 1.2 billion people and combined GDP of $3 trillion, there was huge potential for Nigeria to increase its export to Africa.

According to him, most of exports had been informal exports, but with platforms like Ecobank, “it is going to be formal and add real value to the economy.”

He disclosed that in 2018, the export value of Nigeria to Africa totaled around $6.99 billon, “but its export to the rest of the world totaled $45.92 billion. However, Nigeria’s export is majorly crude oil and natural gas which constitute 91 per cent.”

Awolowo, revealed that using the international trade center export’s tool, NEPC has identified areas of untapped potential for Nigeria in Africa such as fertilizer, ginger and sesame, as these are what other African countries are buying. “Nigeria must, and can, live in a world where it no longer sells oil. Nigeria is working on key game changers in infrastructure in order to achieve this, especially in the area of ease of transportation and also in the area of incentives, export expansion grant like pre-shipment incentives and export development fund, which serve to prepare, facilitate and support exporters to the global market,” he added.