Lagos State Government has inaugurated the State Technical Working Group to be responsible for the domestication of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in the State.
Inaugurating the Group in the Conference Room of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives (MCIC) on Tuesday, the Commissioner of MCIC, Dr. (Mrs.) Lola Akande who doubles as the Chairman, stated that the domestication of AfCFTA aligns with the developmental objectives of the fourth Pillar of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, which is Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy.
Akande harped on the need for members of the Group to quickly and effectively commence the domestication of the trade agreement, saying as with all such agreements, AfCFTA, with no exception, will have both positive and negative effects and create both winners and losers.
According to her, the Group has the responsibilities to organise and monitor State programmes and initiatives on Trade; Support implementing agencies and value chain players to Identify and facilitate appropriate funding sources for the project; Facilitate and harmonise State related plans and projects among relevant government entities (MDAs), the Organised Private Sector and the public and monitor their implementation; Facilitate specific market research and analysis to aid decision making as it concerns the AfCFTA in the state and Identify and initiate state champion programmes.
Speaking further, she listed others as, to Develop a directory for trade-in services within the state; Develop sector-specific roadmaps for the development of product/services interventions for AfCFTA; Set up a Technical Working Group at the Local Government level and Develop and disseminate monthly, quarterly and yearly reports for the State Government and the National Action Committee on AfCFTA.
The Commissioner further enumerated the benefits of AfCFTA to include “Re-energising the State’s aspirations for industrialisation as well as positioning the State as an investment hub and market destination for goods and services of the highest quality standard for 1.2 billion consumers that AfCFTA has the potential to bring to our doorsteps; Enhancing the competitiveness of the State’s MSMEs at the industry and enterprise levels through exploiting opportunities for the scale of production, job creation and better re-allocation of resources; Provision of a platform for the State’s MSMEs integration into the regional economy and accelerate both youth and women empowerment, and Boosting wages for both skilled and unskilled workers.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Engr. Abiola Olowu remarked that the inauguration of the Group is no doubt a laudable move, adding that the new trade agreement, which aligns with the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration, will facilitate the promotion of Nigerian products.
The Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Chinyere Almona stated that AfCFTA will add benefits to Nigeria and Africa as it will help address poverty and increase integration of MSMEs into Africa’s economy. She also called for its domestication at the lowest level for everyone to be carried along.
The Regional Director, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Akintunde Folorunsho explained that AFCFTA is one of the programmes in his work plan and the Council is working extensively to see how it can develop a road map to position and promote MSMEs through the initiative.
Representative of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Femi Gbadegun commended Lagos State for moving AfCFTA to a higher level by taking the step to inaugurate the Group and promised that MAN will support the initiative and see to its success.
Chairman of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Dr. Adebayo Adams stated that the inauguration is coming at the right time and suggested that the State should borrow a leaf from the Asian countries in its implementation in order to appropriate its gains and empower the people through technology to ensure increased production to meet demands.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Mrs Adetutu Ososanya appreciated Mr. Governor for the approval to inaugurate the group.
She also charged the group members to put in their best to ensure that they function effectively, noting that the Ministry is passionate about MSMEs and looks forward to working together with them to ensure that businesses in the State get the global recognition they deserve.