The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has assured that, with the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement by 22 member states, making it the largest trading bloc in the world, Nigeria will improve the competitiveness of the over $70 billion Nigerian Communications sector market for the Continental Free Trade Area.

The telecom regulator made the call yesterday during a stakeholder sensitization workshop on the implications of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) Initiative for the communications industry in Lagos.

Thus, the Commission is rallying the support of all industry stakeholders in sync with its mandate to stimulate investment and economic activity by protecting the interest of the Government, investors and consumers within the Nigerian Communications ecosystem.

“There is a need to fully appreciate the business implications of the AfCFTA; to promote a deep understanding of the AfCFTA Initiative by industry stakeholders, in addition to the institutions that will come into existence following the activation of the Free Trade Area,” said Prof. Umar Danbatta at the forum.

Danbatta, who was represented by Mr. Mohammed C. Babajika, Director Licenses and Authorization at NCC, agrees with the African Union’s position that the AfCFTA will create the world’s largest free trade area, which if implemented will lead to about a 60 percent boost in intra-African trade by 2022.

“This is instructive considering the fact that only 16 percent of international trade by African countries takes place between African countries, according to a study by the African Development Bank in 2014,” he added at the 2-day workshop with the theme: ‘Improving Nigerian Communications Industry Competitiveness for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Initiative.’

The 2-day workshop, according to NCC is to initiate and lead discussions on areas of comparative advantage for the Nigerian telecoms stakeholders, in addition to developing implementable strategies for market entry and market exploitation for the Nigeria-based Communications businesses and investors.

“We want to encourage industry stakeholders on the need to seek and exploit opportunities that will emerge in the operational phase of the AfCFTA and finally; use the workshops as an avenue for generating feedback, identifying possible areas of interest for industry stakeholders and evolving a Roadmap for the future trajectory of the industry in the context of the Continental Free Trade Area,” the former University lecturer noted further.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Board of NCC, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye in a keynote address at the workshop, said the Nigerian Communications Commission is strongly committed to ensuring that the sector continues to improve on its contribution to GDP and by extension the Nigerian economy.

Thus, the alignment with the Continental Free Trade Area arrangement, which is capable of extending Communications services to 1.2 billion people across the African continent. “With a larger proportion of this population made up of young people, whose hunger for data and mobile services continues to grow, there is no limit to achieving by innovative operators/investors in terms of business opportunities,” he said.

The NCC Board Chairman assured that the telecom regulator will continue to strive to improve the performance of the Nigerian telecom rapidly-evolving industry, by encouraging more investments in the industry.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in July this year signed the AfCFTA Agreement with the hope that Nigeria will take the opportunities that the agreement entails, stressing that Nigeria and the African continent will be better off with the Continental Free Trade Area arrangement.

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