The federal government is to champion the extension of rail lines from land-locked countries to coastal states of Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana and other African countries as part of efforts to sufficiently benefit from the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
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The Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki, stated this today at a Stakeholders Engagement/Sensitisation Workshop on: "Implementation Plan of African Continental Free Trade Area for the Transportation Sector in Nigeria".
She said the strategy would facilitate movement of cargoes, enhance import and export of goods to promote trade and create employment opportunities.
The minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, noted that proper galvanisation of the transportation sector through ensuring connectivity, safety, regulation of the road subsector, port reforms (electronic call-up), and deployment of the Deep Blue Project are pivotal for the realisation of AfCFTA, as these would leverage the transportation sector and country to immensely benefit from AFCFTA
"Charting out strategies to implement the low hanging fruits that will propel the sector to achieve the various deliverables in the AfCFTA implementation plan is key", she said.
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, said there was the need for stakeholders to vigorously pursue the buy-in for African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, more so at a time the ministry is saddled with the responsibility of providing seamless transportation system that will facilitate both domestic and regional trade, thereby diversifying the economy and increasing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation.
On her part, the Secretary, National Office for Trade Negotiation (NOTN), Winnifred Ofili, while decrying Nigeria's share of trade which remains low at 3%, said AfCFTA agreement aims to create a single market for goods and services in order to deepen the economic integration of Africa.
In his presentation, the Executive Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, Francis Anatogu, recognised and appreciated the preparedness for the trade agreement as the Transportation Ministry already has a master plan and was among the first to set up a Technical Working Group, although he was quick to point out that the ministry needs to prioritise aspects of its interventions to be impactful. ■