Nigeria’s Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, has been chosen to champion the “Workstream on Road Transport Infrastructure and Services in readiness for African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA)”, single continental market for goods and services in Africa.
This disclosure was made when she received the Workstream Sub-Committee on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) in her office in Abuja.
While commending the initiative behind AfCTA, Saraki stressed that Nigeria can only harness the potentials it offers by providing enabling environment such as: good access roads, stable electricity supply, and security along trade corridors are addressed so that it can become the preferred investor’s destination. She added that the era when the country depended on crude oil is over
The Minister who expressed the opinion that “government has no business in business, but to render service by creating an enabling environment” noted that Nigeria under the President Muhamadu Buhari’s administration is working to revamp infrastructure so that she can become a globally competitive economy.
The Hon. Minister of State further stated that she is currently discussing with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on having dedicated routes for inter-state travels and concessioning of Federal Roads.
The Minister further observed that “90% of people travel by road, yet it is the most neglected and most disorganized sub-sector”, informed that she has met with various stakeholders and currently working on how the road transport sub-sector can be over hauled in line with present realities.
The Minister of State for Transport, while appreciating the fact that the task ahead is daunting but not impossible, assured the Committee of her Ministry’s support in achieving the laudable objectives of AfCTA.
Earlier in his presentation, the Senior Special Assistant to the President and Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCTA, Mr. Francis Anatogu argued that the situation whereby the continent spends $650 billion on importation annually, out of which 85% comes in from outside of Africa is no longer acceptable.
Also, Mr. Anatogu posited that for Nigeria to harness the potentials of the agreement, she needs to be part of the African Union’s (AU) conversation towards ensuring that policies introduced are in tandem with national laws of the country.
Reacting to the issue of funds as the reason why Nigeria has not fared so well, the Acting Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Husseini Adamu, said the onus is on the Committee to justify why money should be allocated to it, adding that ideas and proposals put forward must be easily understood and comprehended.