How we can improve the competitiveness of the over $70 billion Nigerian Communications sector market for the Continental Free Trade Area.
Professor Umar Garba Danbatta Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC in his opening welcome speech during this Stakeholders Sensitization Workshop on the Implications of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, for the Nigerian Communications Industry, holding in Lagos said the Commission, is therefore, fully committed in ensuring synergy through strategic collaboration with relevant stakeholders such as NOTN in sensitizing industry stakeholders on the implications of the AfCFTA Agreement.
He therefore noted that the two-day workshop with the theme: ‘Improving Nigerian Communications Industry Competitiveness for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Initiative is being organized by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in collaboration with the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiation (NOTN), which is a key element of the Governments’ institutional framework for driving Nigeria’s trade policy initiatives.
Danbatta who was ably represented at the event by Muhammad Babajika, Director Licensing and Authorization in NCC noted that last week, we gathered Industry Stakeholders in the ancient city of Kano, for the same purpose. The Kano session was well-attended, with a diversity of quality representations coming from different stakeholder groups in the region. The Lagos event is the second one of such. According to EVC, due to the crucial importance of Lagos in Nigeria’s Communications Industry Ecosystem, it is expected that the Lagos session will provide unique insights and contributions to the objective of the workshops
NCC Boss noted that the Federal Government’s aspirations to advance Nigeria’s economic development through continuous encouragement of pro-trade, pro-business, pro-investment and pro-export measures are in sync with the mandate of the NCC to stimulate investment and economic activity by protecting the interest of the Government, investors and consumers within the Nigerian Communications ecosystem. The Commission, he said is therefore, fully committed in ensuring synergy through strategic collaboration with relevant stakeholders such as NOTN in sensitizing industry stakeholders on the implications of the AfCFTA Agreement.
“AfCFTA is an initiative of the Africa Union with the main objective of creating a single continental market for goods and services, in addition to facilitating free movement of investment and people across the entire African continent.
“Already, the AU has maintained that the AfCFTA will create the world’s largest free trade area. It is also estimated that implementing AfCFTA will lead to about 60% boost in intra-African trade by 2022. This is instructive considering the fact that only 16% of international trade by African countries takes place between African countries, according a study by the African Development Bank in 2014, he said.
“Having attained the milestone of ratification of the AfCFTA Agreement by 22 member states, the Continental Free Trade Area is now the largest trading bloc in the world in terms of participating countries, since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
He therefore pointed out that, with the AfCFTA Agreement, the hitherto business algorithm in Africa is going to change, as it will become difficult for any country to be regarded as the largest market in Africa, since the African continent is now going to be seen as one single international trade bloc.
“Within the context of the thematic focus of this workshop, which is aimed at examining how we can improve the competitiveness of the over $70 billion Nigerian Communications sector market for the Continental Free Trade Area, the NCC, in collaboration with NOTN, is convening this workshop to, among others:
- draw attention of industry stakeholders to the need to fully appreciate the business implications of the AfCFTA;
- promote a deep understanding of the AfCFTA Initiative by industry stakeholders, in addition to the institutions that will come into existence following the activation of the Free Trade Area;
- initiate and lead discussions on areas of comparative advantage for the Nigerian telecoms stakeholders, in addition to developing implementable strategies for market entry and market exploitation for the Nigeria-based Communications businesses and investors;
- encourage industry stakeholders on the need to seek and exploit opportunities that will emerge in the operational phase of the AfCFTA and finally;
- Use the workshops as an avenue for generating feedback, identifying possible areas of interest for industry stakeholders and evolving a Roadmap for the future trajectory of the industry in the context of the Continental Free Trade Area.
He noted that the NCC has gathered a robust team of resource persons and subject-matter experts, drawn both internally and externally, who will address critical sub-themes as we kick off deliberation at this workshop.
Therefore, Danbatta urges participants to come out with robust engagements that would generate concrete outcomes on how the Nigeria-based Communications businesses could harness the potentials of the AfCFTA Agreement to their own advantage.
Also, by extension, we want to ensure that we leverage on the relevant provisions of AfCFTA Agreement, to the advantage of the Nigeria’s Communication industry, which is the sector expected to facilitate and drive the digital economic revolution in the country.