By Obas Esiedesa
Nigeria and other African countries may fully reap the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement until the power situation on the continent is adequately addressed, electricity generation companies in Nigeria have warned.
While acknowledging that the African free trade agreement which finally signed by Nigeria last Sunday in Niamey, Niger Republic will boost inter-country trade, the companies said adequate power supply is needed to actualise its goals.
Speaking under aegis of the Association of the Power Generation Companies (APGC), the companies urged governments to pay special attention to the electricity supply industry.
APGC in a statement by its Executive Secretary, Mrs Joy Ogaji, said in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja expressed optimism that the due diligence conducted prior the signing of the agreement by African countries will boost intra-Africa trade from the current 16 percent to about 60 percent.
Ogaji noted that that besides increased intra-African trade, there were other potential benefits of the agreements to the Nigerian economy in particular and Nigerians in general.
According to her, “Under the agreement, there will be no quota system; trade will be conducted according to trading capacity; exports of goods and services will be cheaper, leading to more competitive pricing”.
Besides, she said Nigerians will now enjoy easier entry (and exit) from other markets, with the cumulative result of all these benefits being a significant boost in trade, and the economy.
As the biggest economy in Africa, with gross domestic products (GDP) of about $400 billion, the APGC boss said the new agreement clearly presents Nigeria the potential opportunity to play a more active role in both the regional and global economy.
She however pointed out that actualising this potential would largely be predicated on the degree to which the country can achieve industrial development as an enabler for long-term sustainable growth and poverty reduction.
“The signing of the agreement is not only a welcome development, but also a stirring indication that the Buhari administration is ready for business”.
According to her, the business includes the commitment by the government to address the challenges capable of hampering GENCOs from discharging their mandates.
Given the critical role adequate power supply plays in the development of the social sector, education, health, transportation and industrialization in a nation she said government has a responsibility to pay particular attention.
“The critical role of power as a veritable physical infrastructural tool for economic growth, industrialisation and development cannot be over-emphasized.
“The availability of adequate power supply is directly proportional to the associated extensive technology-based development in the production and manufacturing sector.
“Steady and regular power supply is needed for different type of industries, where goods, appliances, tools, instruments, machines, modern communication equipment and gadgets, vehicles, aircrafts, ships are manufactured,” she said.
According to the APGC Executive Secretary, the benefits of the AfCFTA agreement to Nigeria may not be fully realised until the problems of the power sector are fully addressed.