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AfCFTA: Ensure Adequate Electricity, Internet To Boost Intra-Africa Trade -Experts

The Nigeria government has been urged to ensure accessibility of electricity, internet and other digital public services to boost intra Africa trade and enhance the effective implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

This was among recommendations made in a report released at the end of a hybrid roundtable organised by the European Union (EU), the African Association for Public Administration and Management (AAPAM), the Pan-African Strategic and Policy Research Group (PANAFSTRAG) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Single Currency and Fintech to boost Intra Africa Trade and enhance AfCFTA implementation in Senegal.

The roundtable was organised to assess the progress made towards a Monetary Union at Regional levels in Africa as a priority for achieving continental monetary policy harmonisation leading to a single currency – AFRO by 2023.
The report also urged the government to evaluate the direct and indirect impacts of digitalising public services and also scale up digital education and skills building, including in the public sector.

The delegates at the round table said tertiary education is relevant for the 4th Industrial Revolution adding that the African governments should take a whole-of-government or holistic approach to digital strategizing and development.

It was stated in the report the pilot phase of Pan African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) aimed at facilitating the smooth implementation of AfCFTA has commenced in Nigeria and other countries of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ).

“The system, which would be ready at the end of 2021, was the first major step taken in addressing some challenges related to the cost of currency convertibility under AfCFTA implementation. Afreximbank is the operator and the main settlement agent for PAPSS and expected to provide settlement guarantee on the payment system as well as overdraft facilities to all settlement agents,” the report stated.

It was agreed that the establishment of the African Investment Bank and the Pan African Stock Exchange; the African Monetary Fund and the African Central Bank (to be Headquartered in Nigeria) and the Single African Currency is crucial for the effective implementation of AfCFTA.

In her submission at the roundtable, the Ms. Ladi Bala-Keffi, Deputy Director of the Central Bank of Nigeria said the bank had been involved in the AfCFTA Agreement from inception.
She said Nigeria has resilient payment infrastructures which enhance the selection of Nigeria to become the hub for payment in Africa.

The Senior Advisor at the United Nations of Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Mr. Adeyinka Adeyemi said the presentations and the ensuing discussions and debates laid the foundations for achieving continental monetary policy harmonization leading to a single currency and the smooth implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

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