By Lubem Gena, Abuja
In consideration of his enormous commitment and contribution to the development of the African economies through a unified approach, the President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode has been named as the African Union (AU) intra-African trade Ambassador.
Prince Kayode, the 10th President of the ACCI, has brought vision and verve to the organised private sector in Nigeria and on the continent of Africa with the establishment of four Centres offering critical services in trade and business facilitation, like the: Business Entrepreneurship Skills and Technology (BEST) Centre, Policy Advocacy Centre (PAC), Dispute Resolution Centre (DRC) and the Abuja Trade Centre (ATC).
Prince Kayode who was at various times Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria across various ministries.
While bestowing the honour on him yesterday in Abuja at the African Union Stakeholders on African Trade Policies meeting Prince Kayode was described as a reservoir of knowledge and a dedicated promoter of intra-African trade
The AU Regional Trade and Industry Adviser, Mr. Jean Bertrand Azapmo said the recognition will go a long way in ensuring that trade ties between countries of the region are brought closer through the African Continental Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and urged Nigeria to hesitate no further in signing the document.
According to him, signing the agreement will open the door for development opportunities and widen market for the private sector.
“Nigeria, he said will soon hit the 200 million people mark, thus a sizeable market. AFCFTA will have 1.2 billion consumers and by 2030 1.7billion, the largest market in the world.
“So in terms of goods and services the Nigerian private sectors will benefit hugely from AFCFTA and by doing so, contribute to the economic growth of the country.
Meanwhile, Prince Kayode assured the African Union that Nigeria will sign the AFCFTA agreement because all the house keeping Consultations with the organised private sector has now been concluded.
He said “Nigerians are competitive, dynamic, out going and audacious. Africa knows this and respects our leadership”
The president also assured that the ACCI, the Federal Government and the organized private sector in Nigeria are committed to the promotion of intra-African trade.
He assured that his award will further spur him to sustain the tempo of his advocacy activities on the matter.
“I want to send this message to all our African brothers that Nigeria stands by the free trade agreement and we are ready to continue to partner with business colleagues all over Africa”
Further, the ACCI president urged the AU to rethink the issue of funding of Small and Medium Enterprises, (SMEs). He said the mechanism and approach on funding must be changed.
“Africa is continent of SMEs, we must change our approach on funding for SMEs. Our commercial banks will never fund our SMEs, so I want to use this platform to plead with the AU to support the rethink for a mechanism for funding. I earnestly suggest that we all collectively push for the alternative funding known as Finance Lease. This will eliminate the problems associated with sourcing for facility in commercial banks and targeted funding”, he emphasised.
Kayode advised that a mechanism where SME operators will not be given cash directly should be considered as it will guarantee that funds for the operators will not be diverted.