New 'groundbreaking' qualification launched in Nigeria to help firms make the most of AfCFTA

Mon 9 Aug 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
IOE News

A ‘groundbreaking’ qualification has been launched in Nigeria today (9 August) in a bid to encourage more businesses in the country to export and trade internationally.

The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) has developed the new Level 4 Diploma in International Trade in partnership with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), a WTO and UN-backed trade agency.

The first students were inducted onto the course at a ceremony held in Abuja, Nigeria, which featured speeches from senior figures at all three partner bodies.


IOE&IT director general Marco Forgione hailed the programme as a “really innovative and groundbreaking project”.

“This partnership reflects our efforts to support the transformation of African trade through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), encouraging more intra-African and global trade from Nigeria,” he said.

“Nigeria is at the very heart of African trade development as the largest economy and the major technological hub on the continent,” he added. “The Institute really values the opportunity to support the development of compliant, effective and efficient international trade in Africa, not just of products and goods, but also services”.


NEPC CEO Olusegun Awolowo told the first cohort of students beginning the course that they will gain “expertise, knowledge and skills” that can be used to “develop innovative solutions and competitiveness in internationalisation”.

The course, which is equivalent to the first year of a university degree, covers trade in both goods and services. It is structured around four modules:

  • The business environment of international trade
  • Financing international trade
  • International marketing
  • International physical distribution

IOE&IT Academy director Kevin Shakespeare highlighted that the course materials were specific to the circumstances that Nigerian traders operate within.

IOE&IT in Africa

The AfCFTA is the first pan-African trade agreement of its kind, connecting 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined GDP of £3.4 trillion.

The IOE&IT has been undertaking several projects to raise awareness across the continent of the opportunities that the agreement creates.

With the ITC, it last week inducted a second cohort of students onto a similar course in Ghana and it also recently signed an MOU with TradeMarks East Africa to create a digital trade corridor in Kenya.

Knowledge is key

Like Forgione, the ITC’s chief of business and trade policy, Rajesh Aggarwal, hailed AfCFTA for “reshaping trade on the continent” and said it could “establish Africa as a global leader on the international trade agenda”.

His colleague, ITC SME Academy manager Shaun Lake, said educational programmes such as the new level 4 course had a fundamental role to play in this.

“In order to export successfully, SMEs need the required international trade and export expertise,” he said. “Trade-related training is in grievously short supply in most developing nations. This gap is the reason why ITC decided to invest in this diploma programme”.