AfCFTA: Handling the challenge of capacity

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This edition of the article on AfCFTA implementation will be focused on Collaborations. Collaboration has to be in three forms in order to effectively and successfully implement AfCFTA for the benefits of Nigerians. The first form of collaboration has to be between the public sector and organised private sector in Nigeria. The second form of collaboration has to be between the organised private sector in Nigeria and the relevant organised private sector in the export market. The third form of collaboration public sector in Nigeria and the public sector in the export market. Since all these collaborations cannot happen at once, that means the government must work with the private sector to fashion out the country and product to target per time (this can be per quarter or per month).

Some of the private sector organisation should include but not limited to the representatives from National Association of Chamber of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Bankers Committee, National Association of Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (NASME), Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialist (NASSI) and Manufacturer Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Southeast Chamber of Commerce, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Kano Chamber of Commerce, Kaduna Chamber of Commerce etc.

The first and one of the most important collaboration is that between the public and organised private sector in Nigeria. This collaboration should be driven by the implementation committee since both representatives of the public and private sectors are present as members of the implementation committee. The essence of this collaboration is to enable the implementation committee members to share ideas and strategies with organised private sector. This will enable the government to sample opinions on the implication of the steps they are about to take regarding the AfCFTA. It also affords the government the opportunity to hear from the operator first hand regarding the challenges being faced in the sector. As a matter of fact, this collaboration enables the government to also get feedback and therefore get to know why some of its policy are being circumvented and therefore not working as originally intended.

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From the previous edition of these series of Articles, it has been clearly stated that one of the reason for the failure of free trade agreement around the world is lack of information about profit, plans, paperwork and processes involved in enjoying the benefits of the programme. This public and private sector collaboration therefore will make it possible for governments and the implementation committee to be able to properly disseminate the necessary information to the private sector. This can be done via a monthly meeting of both parties and the signing of a memorandum of understanding that highlights the obligations of both parties.

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The second form of collaboration being suggested for the proper implementation of the AfCFTA is the collaboration between the organised private sectors in Nigeria and relevant private sector organisation in the targeted export markets. For a start, in the first year of commencement of trading under the AfCFTA, the organised private sector in Nigeria under the umbrella bodies like NACCIMA, can startup the collaboration efforts by forming an alliance with umbrella bodies of private companies in the top five economies in Africa, which include South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and Angola. This is because, these are not just the largest economy in Africa, they are also the largest importers of different products into the continent of Africa.

On the other hand, the NACCIMA can decide to choose the countries to form alliances with based on those that currently import products from outside the continent, which Nigeria produces in large quantity. This collaboration should involve the signing of a memorandum of understanding that clearly states the obligations of both parties. The objective of this collaboration should be to exchange information relating to market intelligence reports of different sectors. Also, to have a regular business to business meeting in order to get buyers, sell franchise, give license to produce, form a joint venture, established a presence through partnership with an agent, merchants, distributors etc at the destination market.

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The third and the last form of collaboration is a very strategic one between the public sector organisation in Nigeria and public sector organisation at the export market. This should be done through the establishment of a commercial attaché (more like a trade desk) at the Nigerian embassy in the export market. This collaboration should involve the signing of a memorandum of understanding between ministry of trade or foreign affairs of both countries and this agreement should clearly state the obligations of both parties. The objective of this collaboration should be the exchange of information on the government policies and procedures for the importation of products into both countries. This should cover pre and post import documentation, exchange control regulation, quality specifications, quality certification, quality control measures at the port, licensing and quota requirements, company incorporation requirements, import prohibition etc. This should also include the needs and supply gap of the economy in terms of raw materials, foods and manufactured goods. All the export market information obtained via this collaboration should be disseminated to the organised private sector through the implementation committee.

Finally, I will like to say that, the objectives of the three collaboration stated in this article are not exhaustive. They are recommendations that could give the implementation committee a thrust in putting together its strategies.

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