The Nigerian market has been described as highly potential and vital in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and should not be ignored but explored and utilized if the country is to benefit from the inherent benefits of the regional economic protocols.
Declaring the two-day Tourism Transportation Summit and Expo opened in Abuja, Mrs. Lydia Shehu Jafiya, Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture said Nigeria can best achieve the objectives of the AfCFTA when a robust public private sector collaboration is entrenched in the implementation system and allowed to flourish, giving the opportunity for all implementers to play an incredibly valuable and crucial role in ensuring that the AfCFTA regime succeeds.
She commended organizers of the Summit, the Institute for Tourism Professionals of Nigeria (ITPN), for providing the forum to discuss the AfCFTA protocols, urging that more platforms should be provided to deepen Nigeria’s understanding of the AfCFTA agreements so as to develop pragmatic, coordinated and supportive implementable frameworks for the country’s full participation in the implementation of the regime at both national and continental levels.
Earlier in his welcome address, Chief Abiodun Odusanwo, National President of the Institute for Tourism Professionals of Nigeria (ITPN)/Chairman Inter-Ministerial Committee, NTTSummit 2023, reiterated that the choice of the 6th edition of the Summit and Expo which is AfCFTA: EXPLORING INTRA AFRICAN TRADE, TOURISM AND TRANSPORTATION OPPORTUNITIES AND MITIGATING THE BARRIERS TO COLLABORATION” was so chosen because of the need to overcome all obstacles and barriers to the realization of the dream for an all-inclusive trading partnerships for the countries of the African Continent as an entity of a singular market.
He further noted that speakers and discussants at the Summit will do critical examination of the challenging barriers and ways of overcoming them in the interest of the AfCFTA by sectorial stakeholders, key players and implementers of the AfCFTA Regime, calling on both government and the organized private sector to put their efforts together and ensuring that not only the protocol agreements of the trade works, but that Nigeria benefits from the objectives of the Agreements.
Chief Odusanwo stated that like all free trade agreements, the AfCFTA will have both positive and negative effects and thus create both winners and losers, which is why the Summit will also look at how Nigeria as a key player, can be a greater beneficiary of the AfCFTA Agreement given the opportunity and will for all participating institutions to have a common front and synergy of implementation, ‘It is the wish of the organizers of the Summit that Nigeria and indeed the Nigerian people maximally benefit from the AfCFTA regime in all facets of human endeavours as well as to achieve the socio-economic, industrialization and technological breakthrough that the country yearns for, with tourism and transportation as critical areas of focus’, he added.
Addressing the Summit, President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Mr. Nkereuwen Onung stated that the tourism industry is a very vital critical segment of the Nigerian economy that must be accorded the rightful place in the scheme of socio-economic administration of the country, urging that the incoming new government should create a stand-alone ministry for Tourism and Culture.
Delivering a paper on Blue Economy: Panacea to Sustainable Development of Trades and Transportation in AfCFTA, the Director General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, called on key players and stakeholders in the various institutional frameworks of the AfCFTA Regime so as to maximize the Opportunities and benefits of the Agreements for the growth and development of the Nigerian economy and its participation the wider economic bloc of the African Continent.
Other speakers at the Summit event are, Prof. Magnus L. Kpakol Chairman, Economic Growth and Development Centre Skill Acquisition – “Key Element for Labour Mobility in AfCTA Implementation”, Hon. Cuthbert Ncube, President, African Tourism Board (ATB) – “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want and the AfCFTA Agreement” among others.