By Constance Imasuen
The Association of the Power Generation Companies (APGC) has congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.
The agreement was signed in Niamey, Niger Republic on Sunday.
Mrs Joy Ogaji, Executive Secretary, APGC in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday, said that the amount of due diligence conducted with respect to this agreement, and the corresponding cohesion with several stakeholders was laudable.
She said that the AfCFTA agreement was earmarked to bring about 60 per cent increase in intra- Africa trade, as against 16 per cent of trade currently being conducted among African nations.
“The benefits of the agreements are tremendous to Nigerians and Nigeria.
“Under the agreement, there will be no quota system, ensuring that trade is conducted according to trading capacity.
”Exports will be cheaper, which will lead to more competitive pricing. Nigerians will now enjoy easier entry (and exit) from other markets.
“The cumulative result of all these benefits will be a significant boost in trade, and the economy,”she said.
According to her, Nigeria is reported to be the biggest economy in Africa, which clearly presents us with the potential to play a more active role in both the regional and global economy.
She said that the actualization of this potential was largely predicated on the degree to which we can achieve industrial development, which will be an enabler for long term sustained growth and poverty reduction.
She said that the signing of the agreement was not only a welcome development but also a stirring indication that the Buhari administration was ready for business Which includes commitment to addressing the challenges which may hamper this laudable move.
”One of which being removing all hurdles faced by the Power Generating Companies ( GenCos).
“This is even so given that adequate power supply plays a critical role in the development of the social sector, education, health, transportation and industrialization for a nation.
“AfCFTA agreement, the benefits it poses to Nigeria may not be fully reaped until the problems of the power sector are fully addressed.
“Goods and services offered by the country may not be comparatively/competitively priced, when compared to other nations with better power supply,”she said.
She said that the trade agreement calls for a renewed zeal and focus in solving the power sector conundrum, so as to position Nigeria amongst leading industrializing countries.
“To feed and satisfy the ever increasing demands for power in many industries and factories in the country.
“This singular solution to power issue will make consumer goods, machineries, equipment and tools flood the African/global consumer markets.
“It will also bring about increased employment and empowerment of the youth which category from statistics, forms a greater proportion of the population.
“The impact of inadequate and steady power supply are multifarious.
“Inadequate power also increases the cost of production and maintenance of factories.
“Nigeria’s potential to become one of the world’s largest economies will remain just an aspiration without the electricity required to pursue aggressive industrialisation, including the revitalisation of moribund local industries.
The reform of 2013 was not a magic wand, as in itself the reform is not a panacea for the power problems facing the country.
“There is need for an apolitical enabling environment through the design and implementation of viable policies, strong and experienced leadership/coordination of the sector.