Experts address impending opening of Nigerian borders, implications on intra-African trade

L-R: Immediate Past President of GIFF, GUTA President, Borderless Alliance President L-R: Immediate Past President of GIFF, GUTA President, Borderless Alliance President

The National President of the Borderless Alliance and the newly elected Co-Chair to the African Regional Food Trade Coalition, Ziad Hamoui has hinted of the imminent opening of the Nigerian borders as announced by that country's president.

Speaking on Eye on Port, Ziad Hamoui also revealed that Nigeria has ratified and deposited the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement which he believes may influence that nation's decision to reopen its land borders.

"It remains to be seen how fast Nigeria can buy into the idea of not only the reopening of its borders but also of its internal market. Not only to the ECOWAS Trade but also to the AfCFTA trade," he quizzed.

In August 2019, Nigeria unexpectedly closed its land borders to trade in goods, explaining that it wanted to put an end to smuggling, particularly of rice and other products from Benin, which crosses their border illegally.

According to the President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association, despite claims of earnings made in the aftermath of the border closure, Nigeria shot itself in the foot by introducing such harsh policy, indicating that Nigerian economic operators have since suffered the repercussions of that harsh policy.

"They have now come to the realisation that they cannot live in isolation, even though they consider themselves giants. The true fact is that their people are suffering," he expressed.

He explained that Nigeria's argument for such a decision was flawed and defies the objective of intra-continental trading and therefore not surprising that the country has inadvertently made situations worse for its economy and economic operators.

The Immediate Past President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Kwabena Ofosu Appiah, touching on the matter, from an AfCFTA perspective said it is about time, African leaders looked at building its sea and land transport capacity.

He emphasized on the need to bridge the logistics gap which he argued will drive the vision for AfCFTA.

"You would want to consider vessel movement between African states, but where are the vessels? Now, it is cheaper for one to transport cargo to from here to Europe than to Liberia. For me, the AfCFTA is so good, but it would have to be thought through holistically," he opined.

Ziad Hamoui urged Ghanaian industries to up their game in areas of pricing, quality, industrial cost and financing in the advent of the AfCFTA.

"We have to look at many factors that may threaten our benefitting of the opening up of the African market," he said.

Source: Eye on Port