AfCFTA: Nigeria ready for 2021 take off date – Minister

Minister gets stakeholders' nod for OGFZA, EPZA repositioning By Victoria Ojeme

The Nigerian government says it is preparing ahead of next year’s takeoff of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo disclosed this Wednesday in Abuja explaining that one of the major focus of the Federal Government in its industrial plan in the post COVID-19 era is the sustainability of existing businesses in the country.

In his address at the virtual annual conference of the Institute of Directors (IOD), Adebayo noted that the pandemic has necessitated the need to ensure the survival of existing business while attracting more foreign investment into the economy.

“It is important to note that the pandemic has necessitated an increase of the government’s focus towards ensuring the sustainability of our existing businesses, specifically in the areas of access to financing, access to markets, tax relief and overall improvement in the ease of doing business.

“Also, our industrialisation strategy is inclusive and recognizes the important role Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) play in sustainable economic growth.

We understand that the institute can play a significant role in mentoring MSMEs, especially by providing guidance on quality and standards, leveraging technology, organisation design and optimisation, and even financing options, that will help them mature and become true drivers and indeed beneficiaries of economic growth.

“It is obvious that getting this right also positions Nigeria to be a net beneficiary when we fully commence the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement next year. We welcome suggestions and input on how best to make these programs work and we are fully committed to support the institute, where necessary,” he said.

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Represented by his Technical Adviser on Investment, Kamal Bakrin, the Minister noted that the theme of this year’s conference: “Business Ethics, Leadership and Sustainability as New Frontiers of Corporate Governance” aptly captured the relevant elements required for the sustainability of every institution.

Besides, “it also amplifies the critical conversations that should help shape Board room decisions across all the sectors of our economy. This is why I am delighted to be part of today’s event; not only to speak but also, through my representative and technical adviser, listen to the various contributions of other speakers who will be sharing their thoughts and insights on this critical topic towards the development of our dear country.”

He said the programmes and advocacy activities of the IOD have continued to serve as a strong corporate governance guide and compass for all directors, and indeed managers and staff, in their decision-making processes and daily business interactions.

“I must say that the timing of this event is auspicious for the nation and its various economic segments. The advent of the global public health pandemic has seen many businesses and government institutions, both local and foreign, struggle for survival, as Boards and management teams develop and execute various strategies to ensure their organisations stay afloat.

“It is reassuring to know that the IOD has consistently articulated the principles and values that guide the stakeholders of institutions in order to preserve and improve public confidence in the Boards of companies; thus ensuring sustainability and creating wealth for the benefit of the businesses and the nation as a whole.

“This plays a vital role in achieving our socio-economic goals of job creation and poverty alleviation by strengthening the prospects of attracting investments, both local and foreign, to the country’s economy, and ensuring the sustainability of existing businesses.”

“This is of great importance to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, especially as we also continue to actively address challenges that discourage investments into the Nigerian economy,” he added.

Vanguard

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