Nigeria’s Hesitation in Joining the AfCFTA Train: The Real Problems Beneath

Nigeria’s Hesitation in Joining the AfCFTA Train: The Real Problems Beneath
Nigeria’s Hesitation in Joining the AfCFTA Train: The Real Problems Beneath

With Gambia becoming the 22nd country to ratify the AfCFTA, the AfCFTA entered into force on May 30 2019. However, Nigeria’s continued its abstention from ratifying the AfCFTA. This is significant, considering that Nigeria’s economy is regarded as the largest in Africa (and the 31st largest in the world).

While the country’s chief executive had initially given hopes that the Agreement would be signed in a short time, this position has since been backtracked, with his comments on refraining from any agreement which could “undermine local manufacturers and entrepreneurs, or may lead to Nigeria becoming a dumping ground for finished goods”. This is against a backdrop of lobbying by the country’s manufacturing and labour unions, and fears expressed that signing the Agreement could undermine local production and accompanying job losses.

If a country with a smaller economy expressed these reservations, these reasons may suffice given that they should be wary of having their economies gobbled up by their larger trade partners. But this is not the case with Nigeria; with a 2018 gross domestic product (GDP) the size o f$US375.8 billion and a population of over 200 people (steadily increasing at the rate of 2.6% per annum), Nigeria is well poised to at the forefront of intra-African trade, if the opportunity is well utilised. Beyond even its abundant natural resources, Nigeria’s greatest asset remains its human resources, many of whom are highly educated. The challenge which Nigeria labour will face in the long run – independent of the AfCFTA – is not from the projected external influx of ‘better-qualified’ non-Nigerians to take up existing jobs. Rather, it is from the absence of jobs within the country, due to the difficulty of enterprises thriving as going concerns in Nigeria.

It is important to reiterate that with or without its joining the AfCFTA, the foregoing are problems that Nigeria would ordinarily have to resolve, in order to continue to thrive as a sovereign economic nation, and reclaim its place as the Giant of Africa. Nigeria could join the AfCFTA train, while simultaneously fixing its internal deficits to ensure that its fears do not crystallize.


Center for Africa Studies (AFRAM) which located in Ankara, is an organization facilitating under the administration of African Affairs Council (AFAC). It makes various researches about Africa to enhance economic and cultural bounds between Africa and Turkey. AFRAM’s publishings has been shared with different institutions as they require to obtain.


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