Economic Experts have decried the less emphasis placed on the services sector in cross-border trade, stating that there is need for proper understanding of the crucial roles of services in economic diversification and efficient functioning of the overall economy.
The services sector which has emerged as the highest contributor to the national output in the last decade has been described to possess great potential to drive the diversification agenda of the government.
Speaking at the Stakeholders Meeting on “Potential for Nigeria’s Service Sector for Economic Diversification, Employment and Foreign Trade,” organized by the PDF Bridge Programme, experts said that the potentials of the sector is yet to be harnessed as less emphasis is being placed on the services sector.
The sector which covers health, accommodation, information and technology, art and entertainment, education, transport among others has created more employment over the years.
The Executive Secretary, National Action Committee On AfCFTA, Francis Anatogu, in his presentation said that it had become imperative for the government to enhance service sector development as it is key to the nation’s participation in the AfCFTA.
He said, “The need to develop strategies on enhancing service delivery cannot be overemphasized as it has become imperative for Nigeria as a nation to explore ways to expand its exportation of services.
“Efforts are ongoing to incorporate Services into the roadmap for the AfCFTA, we are identifying changes in the policy to enable us trade profitably.
“Service currently contributes over 50 per cent to the national exports, and it is an arrow-head for us at the AfCFTA.”
Speaking further, Anatogu said that there is need for inter-agency collaboration to improve standard of local produce, build capacity as well as enhance the nation’s trade.
The Nigerian government had earlier ratified its membership of the AfCFTA ahead of the December 5, 2020 deadline, an agreement going into effect from January 1 next year.
AfCFTA has been projected by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to boost intra-African trade by between $50bn to $70bn in monetary terms, with a 40 per cent to 50 per cent increase over the first 20 years of its implementation.
The AfCFTA will bring together all 55 member states of the African Union covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion.
The National Coordinator for Nigerian Network of Women Exporters of Services, Okpala Nkiru Joy, said, “Service export is indeed a huge catalyst for growth and it is the fastest growing sector in the global economy.
“Even the manufacturing, agricultural, and other sectors cannot exist nor be in the export market effectively without interconnecting with the service sector.”
According to her, promoting service export has become imperative as a tool to growing the economy and drive the nation out of recession.
She added, “It creates high turnover of employment, offering significant opportunities both in terms of increased exports and at enhancing competitiveness, stimulating economic development and reducing poverty.”
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Economy: Underdeveloped Service Sector Threatens Nigeria’s Participation In AfCFTA – Experts