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ECA supports Chad to fresh-out AfCFTA

A retreat to size up the stakes of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the Republic of Chad and lay the foundation for the country’s strategy to leverage it, ended in Mara, Chad, at the weekend, with experts from the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) allaying fears around the county’s participation in the continental common market.

At the retreat, co-organized by Chad’s National AfCFTA Negotiation Committee and ECA’s Subregional Office for Central Africa, bringing together State officials and members of the private sector, the main worries raised were Chad’s readiness to compete with Africa’s industrial giants and the fate of customs revenue for the country.

ECA’s experts – Adama Coulibaly and Simon Yannick Fouda – quickly comforted their Chadian interlocutors, referring them to recommendations of a recent subregional stakeholder meeting in Douala, Cameroon, in which key points for a Central Africa AfCFTA strategy were mooted to cushion the effects of competition and the short-term challenges countries may face on customs revenue.

As explained by the Head of Subregional Initiatives at ECA’s Central Africa Office, Adama Coulibaly, Chad’s Industrialization and Economic Diversification Masterplan (PDIDE) being prepared with ECA’s support, would constitute part of the answer to get the country started with AfCFTA.

The masterplan, in the offing, lays emphasis on energy supply, agribusiness (especially meat and leather products), construction works and the digital economy.

Participants called for coherence between Chad’s AfCFTA strategy and all other development strategies including PDIDE, a point which the country’s Minister of Mines, Trade and Industry Development and Private Sector Promotion Mr. Ahmat Mahamat Bachir, insisted on.

“This coordination is necessary in terms of support from technical and financial partners but also in terms of Government aligning its actions with international, regional and national development programs,” Minister Bachir said.

Participants called on the Chadian Government to use the advent of AfCFTA as an opportunity to quickly strengthen its standards, norms and measurers institutions, improve on official statistics and to avail the National AfCFTA Committee with the requisite resources to enable it prepare a solid national strategy for the common market.

They urged the National AfCFTA Negotiation Committee to draft-in experts from the customs services to earnestly finalize the list of Chadian products open for free trade.

The stakeholders also requested that ECA conducts a SWOT analysis on the Chadian economy, making the necessary linkages with its existing macroeconomic framework, production structure and trade flows; proposes detailed measures to mitigate the risks that would come with the continental trade agreement and indicates pathways for Chad to finance its participation in it.

ECA’s Adama Coulibaly assured Government and private sector leaders of the Commission’s determination and commitment to accompany Chad through the processes for operationalizing the AfCFTA.

Dele Fashomi
Dele Fashomi, seasoned journalist and communication teacher, is a holder of Master of Arts degree in Communication and Language Arts from the University of Ibadan in 1992/93. Earlier, he had bagged a Bachelor degree from the same university in 1984, after which he proceeded to the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos, in 1990, for a postgraduate diploma in Journalism. He had done many courses in communication, including the EU-BBC Editing Course in 2002. Mr. Fashomi combines effectively the practice, research and teaching of communication. And to date, he has published two academic works in communication: Issues in Communication Technology and Policy (2010) and Economic and Social Issues in Advertising and PR (2013). He had his first break in the Nigerian media in Concord Newspapers in 1990 and today, he has over two and half decades experience earned in several newspapers. He has been part of many start-ups, such as The Republic (1987), The Comet (1999), The Anchor 2001 - 2002; Sun Newspapers (2003); Westerner newsmagazine (2005 - 2010) as Editor; National Life (2011) as Sunday Editor, and Newswatch Newspapers (2012- 2016) as Daily Editor. Dele Fashomi is now the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of newspaper online, which he started in July 2015. He is also into biography writing, with many books in his trail, some of which he wrote alone and one he co- authored with his mentor, Mr Dare Babarinsa, entitled:  Olabiyi Durojaiye - DARE TO BE DiFFERENT. He also guided and collaborated with Pa Olatunji Odusanya in writing his autobiography - AGAINST ALL ODDS. There are many other books in the works under his pen.