The Federal Government is to champion the extension of rail lines from land-locked countries to coastal states of Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana and other African countries as part of efforts to sufficiently benefit from the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

The Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki, who stated this today at a Stakeholders Engagement/Sensitization Workshop on: “Implementation Plan of  African Continental Free Trade Area for the transportation sector in Nigeria”, said it
would facilitate movement of cargoes, enhance import and export of goods to promote trade and create employment opportunities.

The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, noted that proper galvanization of the transportation sector through ensuring connectivity, safety, regulation of the road subsector, port reforms (electronic call-up), deployment of the Deep Blue Project are pivotal for the realization of AfCFTA, as these would leverage the transportation sector and country to immensely benefit from AFCFTA

“Charting out strategies to implement the low hanging fruits that will propel the sector to achieve the various deliverables in the AfCFTA implementation plan is key”, she said.

In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, said there was the need for Stakeholders to vigorously pursue the buy-in for African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement,  more so  at a time the Ministry is saddled with the responsibility of providing seamless transportation system that will facilitate both domestic and regional trade, thereby diversifying the economy and increasing  the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation.        

She described the gesture by the Federal Government as a milestone in the quest for regional development and integration of Africa, saying the major objective of the Agreement is to boost intra – African trade through the elimination of tariffs and free movement of goods and services within  member States.                            

According to Dr. Ajani, AfCFTA holds the promise of lifting millions out of poverty  and improving the well – being of all through enhanced market access opportunities.               
Speaking further, the Permanent Secretary said “the current transport sector and AfCTA are like Siamese twins that cannot do without another”, pointing out that there are, however,  challenges that must be addressed for the sector to become transportation hub of Africa.   

On her part, the Secretary, National Office for Trade Negotiation (NOiN), Winnifred Ofili while decring Nigeria’s share of trade which remains low at 3%,.said  AfCFTA Agreement aims to create a single market for goods and services in order to deepen the economic integration of Africa.   
 ln his presentation , the Executive Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, recognised and appreciated the preparedness for the trade Agreement as the Transportion Ministry already has a masterplan and was amongst the first to set up a Technical Working Group, although he was quick to point out that the Ministry needs to prioritise aspects of its interventions to be impactful.

According to Anatogu, “Our role in (AfCFTA National Action Committee) is to provide general expertise, project management expertise, monitoring and evaluation and others”, adding that to compete favourably , there has to be infrastructure and government policies to realise the potentials of AfCFTA

Eric Orjiekwe
D, Press & PR
ARIL 4, 2022