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Africa ready to commit to free trade


A growing commitment to a free trade area deal by the continent’s leaders will spur efforts to create the world’s largest free trade zone. 

 “There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Mukhtar Abdu, Director of the Industrial and Trade department said.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) deal, ratified by 22 countries in April, a year after it was launched in Kigali, Rwanda, is designed to boost intra-African trade as part of efforts to transform regional economies.

The Bank is holding its 2019 Annual Meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on the theme: “Regional Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity.” It is being attended by top policy makers, business leaders and multilateral donors, most of whom have made speeches backing the need for stronger commitment to integration.

Abdu’s department leads the Bank’s ‘Industrialize Africa” High 5 under which several pipeline projects are expected to yield long-term results in reducing poverty and job creation.

“We continue to deliver on key infrastructure projects that catalyze private sector investments and also provide support for businesses, especially in the private sector,” he said.

The Bank’s Industrialization Strategy for Africa 2016–2025 defines six flagship areas which can best leverage its experience, capacities and finances to fast-track industrialization.

Projects supported recently by the Bank include Mauritania’s National Industrial and Mining Company and the Nouadhibou Port, and the second phase of Nigeria’s Indorama Fertilizer Plant.

Meet Dr Mukhtar Abdu – the man behind the Banks Industrial and Trade policy:

Abdu assumed the position of Director for Industrial and Trade Development with effect from September 2017

He joined the Bank from the Dangote Group of Industries, Nigeria, where he served as Group Chief Strategy Officer since 2014.  In that role, he assisted the Group President in setting overall strategic direction for the Company and overseeing key aspects of the strategic planning processes for the group, business units, subsidiaries and associated companies. He also played a key role in driving major activities, projects and initiatives of the Company, including expansion of cement manufacturing into 18 African countries, a multi-billion-dollar Oil Refinery and Petrochemical Plant, plus key joint ventures in Power, Oil & Gas as well as Agriculture Sectors.

Between 2007 and 2011, Abdu worked as the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Abuja Investments Company Limited, a Holding Company of the Federal Capital Territory Administration that provides the interface with the Private Sector and manages Government’s assets and investments in portfolio companies.

He was nominated Nigeria’s CEO of the Year in 2008 by This Day Newspapers.