The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), has stated that for Nigeria to take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), policymakers must prioritise investments in regional infrastructure to maximize Nigeria’s position with the agreement.

This was disclosed by Dr Oyesola Oyekunle, Director, Policy, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) at the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria’s (ICSAN) 45th annual conference on Thursday in Lagos, themed “Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and National Development: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities.”

He added that Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit remains a concern towards the actualization of the agreement for efficient business delivery, and called for the strengthening of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission with human and material resources and its legal framework, to enable it to perform maximally in the realisation of the objectives to which it is set up, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

What NEPZA said

Oyekunle said, “More than ever before, the future of Nigeria depends on her ability to build and modernise its infrastructure.

“Unfortunately, the Nigerian geographical terrain is littered with abandoned projects, as in 2011, the Federal Government established a Project Assessment Committee which identified and recorded 11,866 projects that have been abandoned for a myriad of reasons.

“We are endowed with large oil, gas, hydro and solar resources and we have potential to generate 12,522 Megawatt of electric power from existing plants but on most days, it is only able to dispatch about 4000 Megawatt which is insufficient for a country of over 200 million people.

“As a result of that, only a few percentage of the population has access to the electricity grid, which in any event, is highly unreliable.

“Africa policymakers must prioritise investments in regional infrastructure so as to catalyze integration and facilitate intercontinental trade.”

Meanwhile, speaking at the same event, Nigeria’s Trade Minister, Adeniyi Adebayo added that Nigeria has the largest population – a young, tech-savvy workforce with an also large Gross Domestic Product figure, and the AfCFTA provides the right opportunity to unlock the country’s potential for growth.

“Businesses must be built on trust and principles that ensure its sustainability, and to this, the ministry is willing to pursue a relationship with ICSAN to enthrone ethics, which is a key driver to economic growth,” Adebayo said.

In case you missed it

Nairametrics reported earlier this month that Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo stated that African governments need to provide a stable macroeconomic environment that smoothens out volatility in prices, sharp deteriorations in the current account and budget deficits to prepare for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).