The Lagos State Chamber of Commerce And Industry (LCCI) on Tuesday charged the Federal Government to provide a one-stop shop to drive export and maximise the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
LCCI president, Dr Michael Olawale-Cole, stated this at the LCCI Export Group Symposium with the theme: “AfCFTA: Nigeria’s Preparedness And The Role of Logistics In Its Successful Implementation” in Lagos.
He said AfCFTA presented opportunities to various sectors, especially Small And Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), and that it was paramount for the nation to revolutionise its logistics sector as trade enabler.
The LCCI president advised that the government should go further to ensure quality profiling of the export-ready goods, packaging and ease port logistics.
“Several exporters or potential exporters are not able to pull through the procedures of exporting from Nigeria, as such, we need a one-stop shop mechanism to drive export logistics and documentation.
“The regulatory agencies must strengthen the means of communication to close the information gap between the agencies by incorporating communication plan and strategy, mechanism for feedback and continuous interaction.
“We need to promote digitisation and automation of processes and procedures to reduce the level of manual and paper works. Technology should be embedded across the entire export activity chains.
“There is need to improve the export of other products beyond agricultural products. We should look at textiles, solid minerals, creative arts, among others,” he said.
According to him, government must also continue to focus on empowering the non-oil sector to be more productive and competitive through special interventions in areas of financing and provision of infrastructure.
Olawale-Cole noted that the government could explore the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model for the provision of needed infrastructure.
He stated that the importance of export to the business community and to the Nigerian economy could not be overemphasised, hence the goal of LCCI was to promote trade and boost exports to open new vistas of opportunities for Nigerian businesses.
The LCCI president commended the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) 2022 First Half Year Progress Report, which indicated an improvement in non-oil exports with a total value of 2.60 billion dollars, up by 62.37 per cent from the 1.60 billion dollars and 981.44 million dollars recorded in the first halves of 2021 and 2020.
Olawale-Cole urged that this rebound should be sustained through more incentives to exporters and targeted financing for export infrastructure, and that the Export4Survival campaign introduced by the NEPC should also be sustained.
Mrs Bosun Solarin, Chairperson, LCCI, Export Group, appreciated the LCCI Council, Secretariat and members of the group for organising the event at a time when the country was in dire need of Foreign Exchange and the world waiting to see AfCFTA take off.
Solarin said AfCFTA from its effective take-off had the potential of elevating 30 million people from 55 countries with 3.4 trillion dollars aggregate Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
She explained that actualisation of AfCFTA benefits remained elusive and unachievable without effective distribution channel in which logistics played a bridging role.
According to her, the tenacity of the LCCI group in exploring the opportunities of AfCFTA prompted the discourse around the symposium.
Solarin noted that transportation was critical to trade and development.
“There is little information about what it actually costs to transport specific goods and commodities around the world, especially in Africa because of connectivity issues.
“This is a significant challenge/intervention that stakeholders must begin to craft policies that will make the country’s export competitive.
“Speakers and panelists must give suggestions towards reduction of the average cost or moving goods across Africa,” she said.