By Moses Uwagbale
The Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX) has been positioned to facilitate efficient export of commodities as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) takes off.
Its Managing Director, Mrs. Zaheera Baba-Ari, made the declaration on Sunday in Abuja where she noted that AfCFTA was an important and strategic platform that would serve to enhance the economies of African countries.
“The establishment of the continental trade bloc will be beneficial to African countries if properly managed,’’’ she said.
Baba-Ari said that in view of the expected adverse effects of COVID-19 on the world, AfCFTA would boost intra-African trade and mitigate rapid decline in the GDP of African countries.
She said the exchange had established a network of 20 licensed delivery warehouses across major production areas in the six geo-political zones of the country for efficient receipt and storage of agro-commodities to be traded on the exchange.
The warehouses, located in Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Nassarawa, Benue, Bauchi, Sokoto, Plateau, Ebonyi, Ekiti and Kogi have combined capacity to store 50 trillion tonnes of goods, she said.
Baba-Ari added that other warehouses located in Adamawa, Gombe, Taraba, Jigawa, Edo, Cross River and Ondo States would be ready within the year.
The managing director said the Exchange had established fully equipped Quality Assurance Laboratories in each of the delivery warehouses.
She said the laboratories were for the purpose of testing the quality of commodities such as paddy rice, cocoa, sesame seed, soya beans, maize, sorghum and cashew nuts that would be traded on the exchange.
“The NCX has acquired robust Trading Application System for seamless buying and selling of commodity to ensure market integrity, price transparency and the facilitation of cross border trades.
“It has also acquired a Warehouse Management System that assures an efficient management of warehouse inventories.
“We have perfected Memorandum of Understanding with relevant foreign and Nigerian Commodity Associations like the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange and the Export Merchants Association of Sudan to trade in selected agro-commodities,’’ she said.
On standards and quality of commodities, Baba-Ari said that the NCX Quality Control department was headed by a professional certified by the Institute of Public Analysts of Nigeria.
She added that the exchange’s laboratory was being rigorously upgraded for ISO22000 certification which combines ISO 9001 with Food Safety Management and Hazard Analysis, including Critical Control Point System (HACCP).
“’The HACCP identifies specific hazards and proffers measures for the control of identified impurities in the food processing sector,’’’ she said.
She said that Nigerian farmers and manufacturers would likely face the challenges of global competitiveness as a result of high cost of production, poor yields, low capacity utilisation and high prices.
“The issue of tariff on agro-commodity exports from Nigeria should be addressed to increase efficiency of trade flows.
“There is also the need for Nigeria to improve its position on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Ranking from its current 131st rung of the ladder.
“This should be done by using focus indicators such as paying taxes, trading across borders, starting a business and connecting minority investors.
“This is in line with the goal of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) to be the top 70 among a total of 190 countries,’ Baba-Ari said.
The agreement establishing the AfCFTA was signed in March 2018, in Kigali, following conclusion of the main legal texts.
It is a free trade area among 54 of the 55 African Union nations. Trading in the Area began on Jan. 1, 2021.
It is aimed at creating a single market for goods and services; facilitate the movement of persons; promote industrial development, sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth within the African continent.
Under AfCFTA trading, tariffs on various commodities where rules of origin have been agreed will be drastically reduced and traders of all sizes will have access to a much bigger market than before.