The Secretary, National Action Committee on Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Mr. Francis Anatogu has stated that Africa lacks the production capacity to meet local demand its oil palm needs, noting that the continent still depends heavily on importation.
According to him, Nigeria and other countries on the continent put together cannot produce the quantity of oil palm Africa needs as report reveals that importation of oil topped the list of import among countries in Africa.
Anatogu stated this on the sidelines of a seminar on AfCFTA organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in Lagos recently.
He said, “There is still a lot of oil palm being imported into Africa, so we do not have the production capacity to meet what Africa needs, so we need to build the capacity and reduce the importation of oil palm. Africa cannot produce the quantity the Continent needs. All the countries in Africa put together cannot produce what Africa needs, but it is not just all about palm oil, but about the value chain.”
He urged exporters to take advantage of the huge opportunities that exist in the oil palm demand gap, saying that the higher the continent imports, the higher the opportunities for exporters to tap from the trade.
“Our market is huge and represents 11.8 per cent of total imports into Africa and we have to maintain our domestic market share and we have to develop the local capacity,” he added.
He noted that Nigeria has continued to witness increased investment moving into agriculture and agro based manufacturing, assuring that the federal government would continue to support local and foreign investment in its bid to get more investments into agriculture and manufacturing.
“The public sector will continue to get people into agriculture and manufacturing through some of the programmes that already exist like the agro loans, access to finance and other incentives while also promoting local consumption. We need to catalyse the local market to make sure that we consume what we produce and as the demand grows people will be encouraged to produce more. As we export as well, it also means that there is demand as well. There is local demand and export demand and it will as it would encourage more people to go into agriculture to reduce the food import bill,” he added.
On AfCFTA, he added that although the trade pact is yet to be fully activated, but stated that Nigerians are already exporting products formally and informally to its counterparts across the continent, saying that the federal government is working assiduously to make export trade a lot easier and viable for exporters taking congnisance of the challenges they face at the international market.
“Nigerian exporters are not even waiting and if you look at the statistics, exporters are already exporting formally and informally and what are now trying to do is to make it easier and more viable for them to export and attract more people. We are also trying to create an enabling business environment for exporters to address the challenges they face because we know the challenges are huge, but people are already exporting in terms of products and services. Everywhere you go you see people focusing on export and this is good for the country,” he said.