Nigeria yet to pay attention to financial sector that will drive AfCFTA, says Ndibe


…Wants government to build capacity in aviation, rail transport

The National Executive Director of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Nigeria, Mr. Paul Ndibe has said that the Nigerian government is yet to pay attention to the financial sector that will drive the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Ndibe who stated this in a chat with our correspondent in Lagos recently recalled that most banks in Nigeria had branches in so many countries.

He added that Nigeria being the largest economy in Africa, it was appropriate for the banks to begin to develop financial instruments that would be targeting the trade as there were funds made available by the African Export/Import (AFRIEXIM) Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to influence growth in this sector.

“But how do they channel it? Government has not put out a framework for people to register with them that require funds for these areas that we have enumerated. So, they can’t access funds because there is no business plan and something has not come up for them”, he said.

While noting that African Continental Free Trade was not just about movement of goods, he noted that it was also about movement of people as they move along with the goods.

According to him, “You see, at many fronts, we have not taken the right steps because this movement of people includes also travelling by air – aviation sector. Where are we in the aviation sector? Currently, we do not have a national carrier.

“It is projected that by 2035, the volume by air travel will be almost four times what we currently have on account of growth in middle economies, AfCFTA and the increasing income of the youths in various field of endeavor. Now, with that in mind, other African countries are coming to our country to take advantage of our airspace. For how many years, we have not been able to establish our national carrier.

“Before the Covid, Emirate airline was having three flights to Nigeria, Ethiopian airline, before the closure of Enugu airport, they were having one flight to Abuja and one to Lagos and they wanted to partner with our local airlines for domestic flights until people started agitating. Why are you agitating when you can’t provide that service?

“So, my thinking is, if the Single African Air Transport market has projected that huge level of traffic demand on the aviation sector, do we actually recognize that need? If yes, how have we positioned ourselves to even cater for our own citizens’ travel need? If we take care of our own citizens’ travel need, it will take us close to 25 percent of the entire volume of air traffic demand. But we are not there.

“During the Coronavirus pandemic, Kenya Airways converted their passenger planes to carry tomatoes and flowers to Europe. Were they not innovative enough? But at least they have their fleet and they must fly and they have commodities to move. If you can’t move human beings, move the commodities but do we have that opportunity or leverage? No! Because the capacity is not there, so, also in the maritime sector, the capacity is not there.”

On the rail sector, the National Executive Director who recalled that the emphasis was to connect all the state capitals with rail however regretted that the emphasis had now shifted to taking containers from Apapa.

“But you are not thinking of how to move containers, even empty containers to the port so that they can now take advantage of the products that they are producing. They stopped importation of rice, we are comfortable with rice, we are even over producing and consumption, so, why can’t we export?” he queried.

On fears in some quarters that Nigeria may soon be a dumping ground, he observed that “Nigeria cannot be a dumping ground except we don’t have the need for those products. If we have the need for those products, they will come. If we don’t have need for them, they will not come. So also, if other countries do not have need for our products, we can’t export to them. So, it is left for us to build and develop that market.”

Photo: The National Executive Director, CILT Nigeria, Mr. Paul Ndibe.

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