ACFTA Headquarters: a lost opportunity for Nigeria, says expert

Dr Patrcia Auta, an economic expert says Nigeria’s delay to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has cost the country the chance to host headquarters of the AfCFTA.

Auta in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja, said that Nigeria would have contested and probably won the bid to host for the secretariat due to the role it played from the beginning of the AfCFTA.

Ghana was on Sunday selected as the country to host the secretariat of the AfCFTA.

The AU review committee said the West African nation was awarded the right based on regional balance formula.

Ghana beat six other countries which had submitted their bids to host the secretariat. They were: Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar and Senegal.

Auta said that it was sad that a heavyweight like Nigeria remained conspicuously on the sidelines for long at a time of increased momentum toward continental integration.

“This state of affairs contrasts sharply with Nigeria’s prior activist roles on matters African in years gone by.

“In the past, Nigeria has used its political heft, economic power, and diplomatic and intellectual pedigree to seize the mantle of leadership that changed the course of African history.

“The country lost the establishment of the headquarters to Ghana. Imagine the number of employment this would have created.

“If we had signed on time and contested, there is no way we wouldn’t have won,’’ she said.

Auta said that to ensure the success of the AfCFTA, Nigeria and other AU member countries should also sign on the Protocol on Free Movement and the African Passport before the end of 2020.

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