MSMEsToday and Business Day hosted the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Conference Wednesday 28th April 2021 themed “African Continental Free Trade Agreement as Economic Game Changer: Positioning MSMEs in the Agribusiness Sector to Take the Lead”. Various stakeholders in the agricultural sector both in Nigeria and abroad were in attendance including the Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, represented by Mr. Bolarinwa Abiodun, Deputy Director, Agricultural Marketing and Finance. And the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, represented by Adewale Bakare, Director, Industrial Development.
The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) is aimed at boosting intra-African trade by making the continent a single market of 1.2 billion people and a cumulative GDP of over $3.4 Trillion. According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the implementation of the agreement could increase intra-African trade by 52% by the year 2022 and double the share of intra-Africa trade by the start of the next decade.
In his goodwill message, Sabo Nanono revealed that the AfCFTA initiative conceived by African member states is “commendable” and that it is “expected to be the largest trade agreement in history since the creation of the World Trade Organization”. Nanono noted that Nigeria has huge potential in the sector with 84 million hectares of arable land which has only seen 40% cultivated. He added that the nation has 230-billion-cubic meters of water, making it one of the richest sources of Agricultural growth in the world. Agriculture currently accounts for 22% of the nation’s GDP and 75% of the total non-oil exports, with the sector being the largest employer of labor in the country.
Nanono rounded off his address stating the ministry’s commitment to improving the sector, adding that there are incentives to increasing investments in the sector especially for the private sector.
“We are committed to a robust and sustainable agricultural sector with a stable and viable economic climate for local and foreign investments. The Federal Government has deliberately designed agricultural investment incentives to support high level private sector participation.”
Nanono added that a specific focus is on an expert-led economy and on optimizing the opportunities that the AfCFTA provides.
“An important aspect of our policy reform is to promote an export led economy creating more jobs, income and increase in our foreign exchange earnings. The Agricultural sector is committed to optimize the opportunities and benefits of the AfCFTA”, he said.