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AFCFTA Suffers Setback Over Niger, Mali, Others Exit From ECOWAS, As Transportation Cost Hit Rooftop

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By Roland Ekama

Sequel to the recently announced exit by leaders of Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea from the Economic of West Africa States (ECOWAS), there are indications that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) Agreement will suffer major setbacks on goods and services due to transport hike by the landlocked countries .

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a free trade area founded in 2018, with trade commencing as of 1 January 2021. It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union.

Despite not achieving any form of progress since it was flagged off, Nigeria has failed to tap into the continental trade to optimize its potential.

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With the withdrawal of membership from ECOWAS by these Francophone nations from the West Africa sub region, trade restrictions will be a major hindrance for free flow of goods and services; based on the regional ideals of security, social stability; democratic governance, political freedom, broad-based prosperity, and sustainable economic development through fair opportunity for each and every one in West Africa.

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DAILYFOCUS NIGERIA gathered that already the border posts with one of the aggrieved nation, Niger Republic is still under closure by the federal government of Nigeria despite the soft landing by ECOWAS.

President Bola Tinubu over the weekend called for the suspension of economic sanctions imposed on Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea by ECOWAS.

Speaking at the Extra-ordinary Summit of ECOWAS in Abuja on Saturday, President Tinubu, who is the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the organization, stated that: “Everything we did was in hopes of persuading our brothers that there existed a better path, a path that would lead to genuine improvement of their people’s welfare through democratic good governance.

Meanwhile transporters lamented that the aggrieved landlocked countries would have succeeded if they have seaports.

According to haulage experts along the West Africa corridors, AFCFTA will not thrive with the development and as aggrieved landlocked countries it will be difficult for them to do business with countries with seaports in the region, thus jeopardizing the motives behind AFCFTA existence.

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Speaking with our correspondent on Tuesday, Public Relations Officer West Africa Road Transport Union (WARTU), Alhaji Salami Nasiru maintained that the actions by the landlocked countries is a sad development because they will create more hardship for themselves and would frustrate AFCFTA objectives.

He said their action will further increase transport cost in furtherance to supplying raw materials and agricultural products within the continent and sub region.

Salami explained that movement of goods from one point to another will take longer period before arriving at destination points due to the restrictions within the affected corridors.

He said the countries with seaports closer to these affected aggrieved landlocked Francophone nations – namely Cotonou, Lome and Lagos may decline to assist them in the exportation of agriculture products and raw materials because of their action thus would affect AFCFTA Agreement.

The transporter who is also a chieftain of Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO),further described the Francophone actions as pathetic, saying , “it would cost more hardship for the people of those nations and other landlocked countries and the AFCFTA will not record the deserved existence.”

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Alhaji Salami Nasiru explained that transporters will be forced to take alternative routes or corridors which will be longer distances and means of transportation will attract more cost due to the transit levy.

On his part , Comrade Paul Ayew a transporter within the West Africa, Lagos+Abidjan corridor lamented that “‘Already we are feeling the consequences and actions of the decision taken by these countries because the border restrictions with these country is affecting AFCFTA Agreement.”

 

DAILYFOCUS NIGERIA also gathered that the federal government of Nigeria is prioritizing issues of border communities with neighbouring countries.

Vice President Kashim Shettima it was gathered met with Border Community Development Agency

He said securing Nigeria’s land borders is top on President Tinubu’s list adding that  “Federal Government also plans to improve lives of residence in Nigeria’s border communities.

He noted that Federal Government  will  have to use new technologies to protect the land borders. Adding that “Federal government is  reviewing a report submitted by the border committee to decide if land borders would be open or not.