The Nigerian Export Promotion Council has said micro, small and medium enterprises in the country need to be empowered to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

The Regional Coordinator, South-West, NEPC, Samuel Oyeyipo, said this at a workshop organised for MSMEs by the council’s legal unit in Lagos, in collaboration with the Export Expansion Facility Programme.

The workshop was focused on the role of AfCFTA in the growth and development of intra-African trade, laws and treaties.

Oyeyipo, who described the MSME sector as the largest in the economy in terms of trade, distribution and, to some extent, production, said, “There is a need to let them know what it takes to participate in the AfCFTA.”

He said, “So, we organised this workshop so they can know what they need to do in terms of product quality, packaging and certification.

“We have MSMEs in other African countries; so, we cannot be left behind, and we have to equip our MSMEs with the knowledge required for them to also upgrade their businesses and skills to be able to participate in the AfCFTA.”

The Head of Legal, NEPC, Julie Onmoke, said when the AfCFTA was introduced, the council had believed that “Nigerians would key into it more than what we are seeing”.

She said, “This workshop has been specially packaged to talk to our exporters on how to access the market in order to maximise the benefits and opportunities presented by the AfCFTA by increasing the volume and value of exports from Nigeria.

“Recently, the NEPC gave grants to deserving exporters for them to invest in their businesses in order to increase their production capacity. And when that is done, we expect that there should be more products, which would access more markets.”

A professor of International Economic Relations at the Covenant University, Ota, Jonathan Aremu, said in his presentation at the event that the liberalisation of trade, like the current AfCFTA, would definitely impact MSMEs differently because of their economic circumstances in the Nigerian economy.

He said, “Hence, AfCFTA will not achieve its intended goals if it is not designed and implemented with the adequate consideration of those MSMEs’ situations.

“Therefore, developing an MSMEs-sensitive approach into AfCFTA is necessary, so as to enhance the positive outcomes for them in the implementation of the continental economic integration.”



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