Addis Ababa – The demand for transport services in Africa will increase as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) goes into operation in January next year, transport sector experts said today.
The experts said on the second day of the National AfCFTA Strategy Workshop in Nigeria that any country with an efficient transport infrastructure needed to facilitate trade will be in a commando position in the new era.
While the sectors for road, sea and air transport would remain important, they said the railway would have an advantage over the others if the trading block started operating due to the relatively lower cost.
“Fast rail infrastructure is needed in Africa, as those in charge of transport infrastructure will control the trade pattern in AfCFTA,” said Dina Adeolu, a railway transport specialist.
Vince Onyejeli, co-director and market leader, infrastructure and key projects for the global tax, audit and advisory services group KPMG Nigeria, said there was an urgent need to expand the railway network in Nigeria in order to transport, air and water resources to compliment.
He said that over the past decade, greater attention has been paid to the railway industry, which has led to significant investments and financial commitments, which has led to new and modern Chinese built lines and the revival of old ones.
The theme of the three-day workshop is: Nigeria – the transport hub for Africa under the trade bloc.
Nigeria announced on November 11 that it will ratify the AfCFTA agreement, more than a year after signing it in July 2019. The AfCFTA agreement entered into force on 30 May 2019 after the treaty was ratified by 22 countries – the minimum number required by the treaty. Trading would start earlier on July 1 this year, but was postponed by six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AfCFTA aims to create the world’s largest free trade area with the potential to bring together more than 1.2 billion people with a GDP of more than $ 2.5 billion and usher in a new era of development. It has the potential to generate a range of benefits through economies of scale, trade creation, structural transformation, productive employment and poverty reduction.
Through its African Trade Policy Center, the ECA works with the AUC and member states to deepen Africa’s trade integration and effectively implement the agreement through policy advocacy and development of national strategies. Under the project, the commission supports Nigeria to develop a national AfCFTA strategy.
The ECA also works with the International Trade Center (ITC), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and a selection of independent trade experts with the financial support of the European Union (EU) to implement the AfCFTA in the continent.