After the novel coronavirus pandemic derailed the start date for the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), another unexpected event on the content threatens the new date for the start of the agreement.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a July 1, 2020 implementation timeline to January 2021, but Economist, Dr Lord Mensah, fears the violent protests in the biggest economy on the continent, Nigeria, spells doom.
“It is going to slow things down. The essence of AfCFTA is to ensure that we inter-trade among ourselves. If you look at Nigeria, it is a very big economy with a huge impact on the African continent. Nigeria has taken over South Africa now when it comes to economic size. And so if we are going into trade and the bigger player, which is Nigeria is in trouble, then obviously it is going to affect the timing of continental trade agreement,” he told GhanaWeb.
The Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) was responding to GhanaWeb on Friday, October 23, 2020, about the implications of the violent EndSARS protests that have been raging in Nigeria for weeks and have been spreading to other states.
Violent protests by tens of thousands of youth in Africa’s most populous country against police brutality have hit hard at many sectors of the economy.
The youth have been demanding the abolition of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which has been accused of unlawful arrests, torture, and extrajudicial killings.
Violent escalation on October 20, 2020, in Lagos, which resulted in multiple deaths, further agitated protestors.
On Thursday, President Mahamadu Buhari addressed the nation in a bid to calm tempers but it is uncertain if the protests will now halt.
Dr Mensah said with some key sectors of the Nigerian economy affected by the protests, AfCFTA as an establishment is not likely to be spared.
“Even though the inter-trade activity might come on, we may not see the actual activity until these issues are resolved within the Nigerian environment,” he told GhanaWeb.
AfCFTA is the flagship project of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which is expected to create a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of $3 trillion.