Africa’s wealthiest man and the Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, expects opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to generate up to $12 Billion (Ksh1.3 Trillion) in revenue per annum for his companies. Dangote has vast interests in cement, oil refinery, fertilizer, sugar, telecommunications and more.
He made the revelation at a Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) event dubbed ‘High-Level Roundtable Discussion on Industrialisation in Africa’, highlighting the expectation that implementation of the the AfCTA agreement would ease barriers hindering intra-African trade. The event was among activities held by MAN to mark its 50th anniversary.
“Today, it takes us two weeks to go to Ghana from Nigeria, which is something we are supposed to do in about 10-12 hours. You invest in trucks to take cement to Ghana and it takes you two weeks and going to Lome in Togo, which is about 270 kilometres from Lagos, is taking us 10 days today as we speak,” he stated.
Founded in 2018, the AfCFTA covers a market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across all 55 member States of the African Union. It is the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) ECA estimates that AfCFTA has the potential both to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 per cent by eliminating import duties, and to double this trade if non-tariff barriers are also reduced.
Signatories to the agreement including Kenya are initially required to remove tariffs from 90% of goods allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.
Dangote maintained that political will by African governments was central to improving conditions for intra-African trade. He argued that, at present, it was easier for many firms in Africa to ship in products from China as opposed to the logistical nightmare of transporting products within Africa.
“Government has to do quite a lot in terms of having the political will to remove all these bottlenecks at the borders.
“So, I think that there are quite a lot of areas we have to look at to make this thing competitive. The border crossing is the most important one for us. We must make sure that crossing our borders does not take time.
“It will not make sense at all if it is going to take time. People would rather ship from China straight into their markets. So, we will never be competitive if we do not do that. We actually need to work with the government to remove these bottlenecks, which will need a political will by governments,” he asserted.