A former Director-General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Dr Joseph Odumodu, has warned that if not properly handled the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement signed by Nigeria will affect the economic growth and development of the country.
Odumodu stated this during the 2nd International Conference of UNIZIK Business School, Awka, Anambra State.
The ex-SON DG said the agreement could kill local industries.
President Muhammadu Buhari last week signed the agreement at the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union.
Odumodu, who described the summit as “timely” , said the implication of the agreement was that Africa had become a continent without boundaries.
He said for Africa to be free economically it must begin from mental emancipation and stop depending on Asia, Europe and America for help.
He said, “I came to this stark reality during my tenure as the President of African Heads of Standards Bureau.
“This summit is timely, coming on the heels of the recent ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area
“ACfTA is now touted as the latest elixir for sustainable development for Africa in view of the more than 1.3bn consumers that are up for grabs from a single economic block.
“Many think that if we take care of the poor road and rail links, large unrest territories, ease of doing business, excessive borrowing and of course corruption, African internal trade will rise from current 17 per cent to about 35 per cent in the medium term.
“This sounds optimistic but it is important that member countries address the recurring issues of a lack of stable power, poor health care, lowering education standards, high cost of finance, low access to funds, and many more that are constraining productivity and weakening consumers’ disposable income.
“Nigeria, particularly, must roll up its sleeves to ensure that AfCTA is not a curse but a blessing. Africa too must sit up so that it will not be a dumping ground for good and bad products from the industrialised parts of the world who are increasingly deploying economic diplomacy as a new form of colonisation.”
He added, “The camouflage here is that those brands of products and services which you and I have made part of our lives. This will be a subject for discussion another day.
“For now there is a big elephant in the house that we must tame if the re-engineering of Africa’s economies for sustainable development must not be torpedoed.”
He said the SON under his watch tried all manner of raids and enforcement to stamp out bad foreign products that were hurting our local products; counterfeits and substandard products.
Odumodu said, “We achieved a huge success through our zero tolerance for substandard product campaign. I had doubts if the milestones we achieved were sustainable.”
In her keynote address, the Dean, Lagos Business School, Prof Enase Okonedo, blamed bad leadership and weak institutions for Africa’s underdevelopment.
The Vice-Chancellor of the UNIZIK, Prof Charles Esimone, said to re-engineer Africa’s economies there should be sustained efforts to exploit the value chains of its primary resources, agriculture and minerals.
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