President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday canvassed the speedy establishment of a single and unified market in Africa to increase trade, create more jobs and reduce poverty. In a statement, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said Buhari made the call while presenting Nigeria’s position on Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou’s report on the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and related issues at the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
He quoted the president as saying, “It is Nigeria’s position that as African leaders and principal architects of our union, we must now speed up action to conclude the negotiations and establish the CFTA.”
According to him, even though the continent has missed the timeline set by the African Union (AU) in January, 2012, to establish CFTA in 2017, African leaders still have the opportunity to set it up by March 2018.
He insisted on CFTA creation, arguing that it will drive growth and integrate African market for goods and services.
“In a rapidly changing global economy, with much uncertainty, we believe that the establishment of a CFTA would provide Africa with tremendous opportunity to achieve significant growth driven by intra-African trade.
“The primary objective is economic namely, for trade in goods and services on the continent. A single, unified market would lead to a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement amongst African Union Member States. If we integrate Africa’s market for trade in goods and services, we will not only double intra-African trade, but also negotiate with other regions or continents on trade matters.
“If we increase our trade, we grow faster, create more jobs and reduce poverty. Thus, with CFTA, our continent will be more integrated, united and prosperous.
“CFTA will carry significant welfare gains associated with increased production, consumption and revenue. It will generate more economic growth, enhance efficiency and support enterprise and innovation,” he was further quoted.
Stressing that it will “be another step in uniting Africa and consolidating the architecture of the AU,” Buhari added: “The establishment of the CFTA is also the first step for the African Union in the implementation of ‘Agenda 2063’ for the socio-economic transformation of the continent as well as being a building block in the achievement of the goals of the 1991 Abuja Treaty on the African Economic Community.”
He described Issoufou as the “AU Champion for the CFTA,” whose work “has significantly advanced our goal to conclude and launch the CFTA.”
He also lauded the technical support provided by the AU Commission, with a Nigerian serving as the Chairman of the Negotiating Forum and Chairperson of the AU Ministers of Trade.
Meanwhile, 25 of the 55 countries which make up the AU yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, sealed an agreement to commence the operation of a single air aviation market.
Tagged: ‘Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM)’ policy, the move which has been described as a flagship project of AU, seeks to create a single unified air transport network in Africa.
The policy was conceived to liberalise civil aviation in Africa and boost economic integration.
The event, which took place at the AU summit in the East African country, has been described as a renewed move to boost inter-connectivity, force down air fares and foster economic growth in Africa.
This came as the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, told journalists on the sidelines of the summit that Nigeria was determined to launch a new national carrier.
Following the unveiling of the single aviation market, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya became the first set of countries to embrace the initiative which has been in the pipeline for over three decades.
The plaque commemorating the initiative was unveiled by AU Chairman and Rwandan President, Paul Kagame and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki.
Speaking at the event, the AU Chairman celebrated the eventual realisation of SAATM for Africa.
“I want to say a big thank you for the work the Commission has put into this, to be able to form a single air transport market which is very important for the development of our continent in line with our many projects that will take us to our wishes for the year 2063.
“I am glad that we can achieve some of these now or tomorrow, especially this particular project. I am happy for associating myself with the progress that we have made so far,” he said.
Consequently, Kagame named the President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbe as the driver of the full implementation of the policy.
In his own briefing, Sirika said following the launch of SAATM, the federal government would hasten plans to unfold a national carrier.
According to him, the initiative is ladden with several benefits including increased investments, job creation, among others.
– This Day