While speaking at an AfCFTA Workshop organized by the National Action Committee on African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, an Associate Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers Nigeria, Taiwo Oyaniran identified poor infrastructure as one of the major barriers to agricultural trade within and outside Nigeria.

According to him, Nigeria had significantly poor transport infrastructure and services, particularly in the rural areas. He further explained that lack of cold chain logistics contributes to a decrease trade capacity through losses from spoilage and impact on time to reach the market.

Oyaniran noted that Information and Communication Technology and e-commerce infrastructure play a critical role in the availability of market information and rapidity of reaction. He said, despite recent improvements in the state and quality of digital and telecommunication technologies, ICT infrastructure in Nigeria still requires significant improvement to enable trade efficiency.

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Oyaniran identified bottlenecks at the seaports as one of the factors affecting cross-border trade, apart from customs and border administration processes that are relatively inefficient.

Highlighting that state of agriculture and agribusiness in Nigeria, Oyaniran noted that Africa’s food import bill stood at about $35bn in 2016 and it is expected to rise to $110bn by 2025. He explained further that Africa’s agribusiness sector was projected to reach $1tn in 2025 due to the continent’s rapidly growing middle class.

According to him, Africa’s agricultural sector is bedeviled with a weak value chain. For instance, out of the $62bn in agricultural products exported by Africa in 2017, only $12bn were classified as processed goods.

Despite all these challenges, Oyaniran said some government policies had been introduced to encourage cross-border Agric trade.

Despite all these challenges, he said some government policies had been introduced by the government to encourage cross-border Agric trade. He added that economic and export promotion incentives such as trade barriers on select Agric goods would protect local producers and stimulate the growth of the industry.

The PwC director said several economic incentives were being offered to Agric investors in Nigeria, including income tax relief, zero import duty on equipment and VAT exemptions, among others.