The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has called on authorities across the continent to take the right policy actions to actualise the limitless opportunities for the industrialisation of Africa offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He stated this in a message delivered on Thursday at a ‘Roundtable on Industrialisation in Africa’ in which he listed such actions to include the protection of local industries and improvement of value chains.
The roundtable themed “Positioning African Industries for Economic Transformation and Continental Free Trade” was organised by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) to celebrate its Golden Jubilee.
“For certain, the AfCFTA is indispensable if industrial development is to take off in Africa because it offers wider markets and economies of scale which are essential for manufacturing to be competitive,” the Vice President was quoted as saying by his media aide, Laolu Akande.
“We must take policy actions to create an environment in which businesses can thrive. To start with, we must adopt the right type of macroeconomic and industrial policies.
“It is important for African governments to provide a stable macroeconomic environment which avoids and smoothens out volatility in prices, sharp deteriorations in the current account and budget deficits and, of course, rapid accumulation in debt burdens.”
On actions that will boost manufacturing, Professor Osinbajo believes policies like tariffs, quotas, subsidies, and non-tariff barriers, that protect infant industries so that they can create jobs and enable learning, are vital.
He stressed the importance of well-negotiated rules of origin in the context of the free trade agreements, describing them as key to preventing trans-shipment and the deflection of trade.
The Vice President stated that without them, firms from non-state parties could set up simple labelling operations in one member state with a view to shipping already finished products to another member state without really adding any value.
He explained that it was important for MAN to involve itself in an advisory capacity to government negotiators.
“Our manufacturers must also strive to become competitive after clearly specified time periods so that they can withstand the ever-present danger of stiff competition from imports,” said Professor Osinbajo. “In other words, while our manufacturing industries must be nurtured and supported, they cannot remain infants forever.
“One of the ways to increase the competitiveness of African industries is to develop and deepen regional value chains wherein production systems starting from conception and design right through to supply of raw materials, processing, transport, storage, marketing, and sales take place within our countries and continent.”
Meanwhile, the Vice President is expected to depart Abuja on a short visit to Arusha, Tanzania where he will be received by his Tanzanian counterpart, Dr Philip Mpango.
While in Arusha, he would visit the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR), an African Union agency in Arusha, among other engagements before he returns to Abuja on Monday.