The Chief Executive Officer, Rest of Africa, Standard Bank Group, Sola David-Borha, has said Nigeria will be among the biggest beneficiaries of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The AfCFTA treaty is one of the flagship projects of the African Union Agenda 2063, and is aimed at creating a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons. On March 21, 2018, 44 African heads of state and government officials met in Kigali, Rwanda, to sign the framework to establish the AfCFTA.
David-Borha, who described the AfCFTA as “very welcome” in Lagos on the sidelines of the bank’s Trans-regional Conference on Monday, noted that Nigeria had not signed the agreement.
She indicated that there were fears over the lowering of barriers, saying, “That agreement is proposing a 90 per cent reduction in tariffs on particular goods.”
David-Borha said, “In fact, I think Nigeria will be one of the greatest beneficiaries, frankly, of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement. It has got 200 million people. What will it do? It is going to allow goods and services to move freely across Africa, generating more economic activity.
“Yes, there are risks of, maybe, illegal elements moving but the opportunities are much greater than the risks. Africa’s ability to negotiate as a regional bloc positions them better from a geopolitical element rather than individual countries trying to negotiate.”
Standard Bank said it was escalating its trans-regional trade and business conferences into a broadly inclusive pan-African initiative aimed at driving collective growth across the continent.
“Our previous conferences showed us the scale of the opportunity for growing intra-African trade, especially the potential for cross-border trade, to change the growth trajectory of the continent,” said the Chief Executive, Personal and Business Banking, Standard Bank, Zweli Manyathi.
He said in addition to providing critical insight into how best to help clients leverage Africa’s full cross-border potential, “we also realised that increasing trade was a pan-African, and not just a regional opportunity, for the continent.”
The bank said in a statement that since intra-regional trade in Africa currently accounted for only 12 per cent of trade flows, it had identified the rapid promotion of continental trade as a key priority in achieving the kind of growth that would transform the lives of ordinary Africans.
It said if the continent could increase trade between African countries to the global average – from 12 per cent to 50 per cent – the continent would be far less reliant on global trade and investment for its own growth.
Standard Bank said, “This will also mean that, for the first time in history, Africa will be able to set and drive its own investment and growth agenda – independently.