Address by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Opening Ceremony of the Intra-African Trade Fair 2021.
Your Excellency, Mr. President, I wish to specifically thank you for inviting me to attend this programme. Let me at the outset, convey on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria and myself, our deepest condolences on the passing of the former president of South Africa, Mr. Frederik Willem de Klerk. Together with former President Mandela, they gave birth to a new South Africa. I send my condolences to his family and friends.
Today is a great day for Africa as we start our collaborative journey towards collective economic prosperity through the African Continental Free Trade Area. I very much look forward to seeing more African products manufactured in Africa using African resources. Let me start by congratulating the African Union Commission, the AFCFTA Secretariat and the Africa Export Import Bank for their dedication and relentless effort in seeing this very worthy initiative become a reality.
I, also commend the people of Durban for hosting this year’s intra-African trade fair. I sincerely hope that we will witness milestone agreements among African businesses at this gathering. Through these gatherings, we will be laying a solid foundation for future business-to-business, business and government, and government to government co-operation.
Most of Africa’s existing challenges, whether security, economyor corruption, can be traced to our inability over the years to domesticate the production of our most basic requirements and provide jobs to our teeming and dynamic youth population. Under the African Continental Free Trade Area, we can double our intra-Africa trade by 2030, reduce our reliance on imports and therefore create more jobs within the continent.
We cannot achieve this goal by talking alone. The implementation will be a difficult journey. But all challenges are surmountable if both the public and private sectors collaborate. On the public sector side, Governments must support local entrepreneurs to build scale and therefore improve productivity.
This means providing incentives to encourage our businesses to formalise and comply with laid down regulations. Free Trade must also be Fair. And fairness can only be achieved when there is full compliance with regulations especially those relating to rules of origin.
The AFCFTA is for “made-in-Africa” products and services. Africa must be a marketplace where no country is left behind. As we implement, we must ensure that we create jobs and enhance revenues for all parties. We must leverage on one another’s strengths to succeed.
Our business people must key into existing regional value chains or build new ones, either to extend operations into the higher value segments of their industries or to satisfy the Area’s rules of origin requirements. The Intra-Africa Trade Fair is uniquely positioned to help in these areas. Let me assure you that Nigeria has come to Durban in full force to actively participate in this very important trade fair and take full advantage of all the opportunities it provides.
We have streamlined the country’s participation under one-roof to enable you access all the information you need. As many of you are aware, in the past five years, Nigeria has made significant strides towards the diversification of her economy from an oil revenue dependent country to a nation with diverse revenue sources.
We were able to achieve this by putting in place fiscal, monetary and trade policies that support investments and investors in key sectors such as Agriculture, Mining, Telecommunications and Digital Economy, Banking and Financial services, tourism, and manufacturing. We also introduced reforms in key institutions as well as policies to fight corruption and ease the way of doing business in Nigeria.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Nigeria is open for business. I wish you all a very successful trade fair.
Thank you all and God Bless Africa and its people.