By Sandra Chukwunyere
There is an urgent need for Nigeria to fix it’s Maritime industry for efficiency, as part of major preparations to reposition the country as a force to reckon with under the African Continental Free Trade Aggreement, AfCTA, regime.
An economist Dr. Muda Yusuf made the call at the annual lecture organised by the PrimeTime Reporters online recently.
During the lecture, guest speakers and participants X-rayed Nigeria’s readiness for AfCTA.
Signed by 54 out of the 55 African countries, AfCTA which formally kicked off in January this year intends to create a single market block in Africa.
In his presentation Dr. Yusuf observed that the nation’s Maritime industry though holds enomous prospects, is being challenged by myriads of challenges and setbacks including the problem of Monopoly, calling for the authorities to swiftly address address some of the identified setback in the Industry to ensure seamless businese transactions.
He said that due to the Monopolistic nature of the nation’s Maritime industry in all aspects of operations ranging from
shipping companies, to the terminal operators, and Customs, the Industry has remained largely uncompetitive.
He noted that the Maritime Sector caused the delay in ratifying AfCFTA because of issues of lack of readiness, warning that the nation does not go the way of the British who entered the EU and later had Brexit.
Dr. Yusuf urged that all internal and external issues including power, infrastructure, legal framework and all the other relevant necessities be fixed without delay.
He agreed that the AfCFTA will benefit some countries more than the others and affect some countries more negatively than others.
In a keynote address Mr. Francis Anatogu, secretary of the National Action Committee on AfCFTA, commended the organisers for the bold step they took in organising the lecture.
Mr. Anatogu while breaking down his lecture into parts covering the benefits of AfCTA, Nigeria’s preparedness , need for infrastructures and progress made, submitted that Nigeria may not be able to meet with all the rules now, but should try to improve over time.
While emphasising on the need for the various governments to give incentives for investors to produce by building infrastructure , Mr. Anatogu also called on the general populace to bring their patriotism to bear by patronizing locally produced commodities.
On his part, Engineer Greg Ogbeifun gave an overview of the trade Agreement saying that it will help domestic production of goods, create employment and engender intra-African trade and growth.
He says that this is generally to help stimulate economic activities in and around the continent.
Ogbeifun however observed with dismay that Nigeria is not ready for the Trade Area as he said that “we may loose out in the Agreement as we are not manufacturing much”.
The chairman of the occasion Barrister Osuala Emmanuel Nwagbara had called for the creation better awareness creation on AfCTA , even as he decried that infrastructural deficit in all areas of our national life.
He also stressed the need for proper inter-agency synchronisation of activities for foster the realization of the objectives of AfCTA in Nigeria.
Most of the speakers unanimously expressed that the country at present is not ready to take advantage of the inherent benefits in the Agreement, but believed that taking the proper and needed steps will ensure that all derivable benefits could be achieved within a short time.
The event featured the presentation of awards of recognition to some people and organisations for their contributions to the development of the Nigerian economy.