By Henry Uche, Lagos
As African countries are exploring the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), experts are still skeptical on the possibility of Nigeria to make maximum use of the trade agreement, with the CEO of Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Laoye Jaiyeola, saying Nigeria must take hard decisions in other to explore the market benefits.
In an interview with AIT, Jaiyeola said Nigeria should not expect tangible benefits from AFCFTA since our power supply and other infrastructure in the country are still in a sorry state.
Acccording to him, if the Buhari administration meant well for Nigerians it would reduce the cost of governance and other unnecessary spending to fix the country’s infrastructure problems.
‘We must take hard decisions, like deliberately cutting cost of governance, as you can see power failure alone have led to underemployment among our youths, talk more of other infrastructure which are indispensable to move goods around,’ he said.
He alarmed that investors are moving to more friendly business environment for obvious reasons, adding that the Nigeria government should rise and protect keys but vulnerable sectors of the economy and encourage other sectors beyond manufacturing where Nigeria has comparative advantage like the service, ICT, Creative Industry, legal sectors among others.
The economist stressed: ‘Our over-reliance on crude oil and complete monetisation of crude oil is a major problem, so for us to gain from AFCFTA, we need to adopt what is called “Value Chain Development”, already we are investing less than ten percent yearly in what we are supposed to invest in infrastructure. So the structure is very poor. Investors would not come in where there are no marco-economic stability.
He added that Nigeria needs a well designed and coordinated network structures and infrastructure to move goods and services within Nigeria and beyond and conscientiously embark on backward integration, urging the federal government to make its business policies very clear and attractive for investors to take decisions instead of continuous policy summersault.