Nigeria yesterday signed a $1billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to promote trade.

The trade facilitation instrument will be managed by the Nigeria-Africa Trade and Investment Promotion Programme (NATIPP), AFREXIM, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), and the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM).

Afreximbank Chairman Dr. Benedict Oramah, NEPC Executive Director Segun Awolowo, NEXIM Managing Director Abubakar A. Bello and Intra-African Trade Initiative Managing Director Mrs. Kanayo Awani signed the agreement.

The event, which was held at the IATF Conference Centre, was flagged off by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who flew into Cairo, the Egyptian capital yesterday morning to unveil Nigeria’s Day at the first ongoing Intra-African Trade Fair.

He said Intra-African trade remained a veritable tool to develop the continent in the light of its growing population.

The Vice President said Nigeria placed a great premium on the continent’s economic integration, adding: “We recognize trade as a veritable tool towards Africa becoming an industrialized, prosperous and peaceful continent, where we generate enough opportunities to accommodate the growing numbers of our people.

“The number entering the job market yearly in Africa is daunting and it is clear that increased intra –Africa trade is one of the surest ways of creating the jobs that are desperately needed. Therefore, the IATF, bringing together business communities, innovators and creators, both in merchandise and service industries in 55 African countries, is a remarkable achievement in itself to increase trade in Nigeria,” and across the continent.

“Today, we have come to the IATF, with a delegation of policymakers, services and market operators, who have an array of goods and services that are as rich and diverse as the people of our great nation,” he said.

Osinbajo said Nigeria has continued to record growth with phenomenal strides in the Information Technology field. He said: “ In the second quarter report of our Bureau of Statistics (NBS), services contributed approximately 54 per cent to the GDP, with Information and Communication being the drivers of growth. Clearly, one of the remarkable developments in Nigeria’s economic growth story, is the phenomenal growth and depth of technology and innovation, with hundreds of new companies jostling for primacy in this fast and growing economic space.” “It is estimated that the digital economy in Nigeria will be worth $88 billion dollars, creating about three million jobs in 2021.

“So, today, we have come with some of our best digital entrepreneurs with their products to start a conversation around cooperation and partnerships that will jump-start the continental economy, to create our own corporations, such as Facebook, Google, among others.”

Osinbajo spoke about Nigeria’s entertainment industry “setting the pace”, stressing that Nollywood is number three in the global rating ladder. “The Africa –wide popularity of Nollywood pointedly demonstrates that our stories are the same, our hopes and aspirations are identical, and so our sense of fairness and justice,” the Vice President said.

He invited the audience to savour Nigeria’s cultural event slated for the evening (last night) where a variety of Nigeria’s cuisine and Nigeria’s artistes, including 2 face Idibia, D’banj, Femi Kuti and the Kalakuta Queens, were billed to perform.

Osinbajo said Nigeria’s presence at the IATF will not be complete without the strong showing of the fashion industry, which he acclaimed , is internationally recognized. Over 40 exhibitors are featuring in that sector alone, with an array of products – clothes, bags, hats and several other designs.

At the session were Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Abia and Kebbi Governors Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and Mohammed Bagudu Abubakar, Prof. Pat Utomi, Chief Trade Negotiator, Nigeria Office for Trade Organisation, Chiedu Osakwe and many exhibitors, including the executive Director of SystemSpecs, ‘Deremi Atanda.