AfCFTA: Handling the challenges of communications (2)

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The information about AfCFTA must be communicated clearly and continuously to the business community across Nigeria. This must be done for such a long time until the awareness of AfCFTA created in the consciousness of an average businessman in Nigeria gets to the level of awareness of major candidates of the political parties which was seen in people during political campaigns. This simply means there must be a deliberate plan to communicate the gospel of the AfCFTA through all the communication channels available and sustain the tempo for a very long time. This can be done by the AfCFTA implementation committee in conjunction with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, National Association of Chamber and Industry Mines and Agricultural (NACCIMA) and the organised private sector. The communication of this message should follow the AIDA model of advertising. That means the message going out should not just create the Awareness, it should be continued enough to generate Interest in business people and this should be sustained in order for the business people to Desire it, and after this the propagation of the message should continue until it generates Action, which is participation of the Nigerian businesses in AfCFTA.

The messages to be communicated about AfCFTA to the business community should be very comprehensive and this should include but not limited the following:

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Programme- the message of AfCFTA should state the details of the agreement like the rule of origin, protocol on trade in goods, protocol on trade in services and the dispute resolution. This is to let them have a comprehensive overview of the agreement.

Profit- the AfCFTA messages to be communicated to the business communities should clearly state the benefits of the agreement to the Nigerian people, Nigerian businesses and Nigerian economy in general. This is to create the necessary motivation in the businessmen.

Policy- the message should also convey the policies that the government is putting in place to help the Nigerian businesses to be able to participate in the AfCFTA. This is to let the business community see the commitment of the government to support them.

Procedure- in order to benefit from the AfCFTA there will be laid down step by step procedures. This should be communicated to be business community in form of infograph and distributed in pamphlets at any AfCFTA event. This is to let the business community know how to get started.

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Paperwork- the paperwork is a major challenge for many SMEs under the ETLS. The documentation required should be communicated to the business people together with people who can help them do it. This is to ensure that having created the awareness, the people are not discouraged by the challenges of documentation requirement.

Product- In order to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in the pursuit of AfCFTA by the exporters, the implementation committee should also make available after a thorough research, the list of Nigerian products with potential within the African continent.

Purchasers- it is not enough to make Information available about product with potentials in African market but also making the list of countries that buys and if possible the companies that buys such products in that country becomes very important.

Promotion- there is the need for promotion of Nigeria products in the various export markets in Africa. This should be parts of the implementation plan of the AfCFTA committee and it should be done through solo exhibition in the target market. This promotional programme should be well publicised and support should be made available in order to get the Nigerian businesses to participate.

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Payment- the payment information here has to do with making information available on funding for procurement and processing in order to pay local suppliers and workers respectively. It also involves making information available on payment facilitation so as to get paid after shipment.

People- The men to communicate these messages are a critical aspect of AfCFTA communication plan. They have to be trained and readily available online and offline. Such people should have an office in different states of the federation and the information about how to reach them for enquires should be made available to the public.

Finally, I will like reiterate the fact that the challenge of effectively communicating all the information about FTAs have been the major impediment and clog in the wheel of progress in different parts of the world. It is my hope that the implementation committee of the government will adopt some of the recommendations that are been prescribed in this article in order to make the implementation of the AfCFTA create the necessary jobs that will lift out of penury, the tens of millions of Nigeria that are currently living below the poverty line.

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