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Buhari: African leaders must tackle issues that hinder business integration

Buhari: African leaders must tackle issues that hinder business integration
September 30
16:23 2022

President Muhammadu Buhari says African governments need to demonstrate a higher level of commitment for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to succeed.

According to a statement by Femi Adesina, presidential spokesperson, Buhari said this while during his speech at the second African sub-sovereign governments network (AFSNET) conference on Friday in Abuja.

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the secretariat of AfCFTA and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), organised the event.

Buhari decried the low level of trade among African countries.

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 ”As leaders, we must all be concerned that we are not trading enough amongst ourselves. It is a bitter reality that Intra-regional trade still accounts for a very tiny fraction of total trade in Africa,” he said. 

”We have to understand that if this new drive towards a continental free trade area is to succeed, we must demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackling the slow pace of physical integration due to geographic and political fragmentations, the pace of political cooperation, and difficult tariff and non-tariff barriers that inhibit business integration.

‘I am firmly convinced that with the right collaborative action, we will be able to record a much stronger pace of transformation.

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“Through shared knowledge, innovation and creativity, we will be better able to cater for the needs of the African continent’s population of over 1.4 billion people.”

He urged the conference to use the network and support provided by pan-African institutions as a platform for exchange of ideas, knowledge and skills.”

The conference, he said, should also seek to advance innovative solutions to support Africa’s common quest for the expansion of intra-Africa trade opportunities for its people. 

Buhari commended the organisers of the conference for demonstrating innovative thinking by taking the AfCFTA to the grassroots. 

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Furthermore, he thanked Benedict Oramah, Afreximbank president, and his team for committing $250 million as seed capital towards the establishment of the AFSNET.

He acknowledged that the initiative — spearheaded by Afreximbank — was aimed at firmly establishing and deepening the intra-continental trade investment development frontier for Africa. 

He added that the initiative sought to facilitate the reduction in the continent’s dependence on exports of primary commodities as well as minimising the risks experienced due to strong reliance on global value chains.

”This opportunity, if properly harnessed, is a significant step for Africa to begin carving its niche in the global value chain, from the constituent units up,” he said. 

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”This will undoubtedly complement broader programmes such as the AfCFTA, which remains one of the most strategic pan-African agenda to deliver inclusive and sustainable development.” 

The president also recognised the AfCFTA secretariat and the role of Wamkele Mene, its secretary-general, in organising the conference in Abuja.

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The president, who told the conference that he was in the second and final term in office, reflected on the challenges the continent has encountered since he took office as president.

”In all, we have remained particularly resilient,” he said. 

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“Together, we have endured several challenges, from the collapse in commodity prices in mid- 2014 up till 2016 and again in 2020, to the COVID-19 pandemic, to the worsening impact of climate change, droughts, food insecurity and the depletion of our ecological reserves, and of course our fight against violent extremism and terrorism.

”In this regard, in May this year, at the African Union Extraordinary Summit in Malabo, I backed the recommendation of the AU Commission to set up a Standby Force on Terrorism on the continent. As leaders, we must summon the political will required for the development.

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“We must entrench synergy, enhance intelligence gathering and bring more urgency to our collective efforts as we seek to guarantee peace and prosperity in our continent.

‘Therefore, we must increase our efforts in our fight against cybercrime, money laundering, drugs and arms trafficking, smuggling of persons and the reckless destruction of our precious wildlife.

‘These and more we must do to engender a safe and productive environment for all.”

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