By Yemi Akinsuyi
The non-oil products exporters have called on both federal and state governments to put in place favourable policies and infrastructures that would enhance the growth of the sector.
The exporters stated this during the award dinner organised for them in Abuja by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) for their outstanding achievements in export growth, product diversification and employment generation.
Fifteen exporters were given awards by the NEPC, which included Sun and Sand Industries Africa Ltd., Lee Group, Multi-Trex Integrated Foods Plc, Beta Glass Plc, Sam & Sara Ventures Ltd., Bolawole Enterprises Nig. Ltd., Zenith International Bank Plc.
Others included Unique Leather Finishing Co. Ltd., Chi Ltd., Virgin Enterprises Nigeria Ltd., Mamuda Group, Bolawole Enterprises Nig. Ltd., Olam Nigeria Ltd., Agro Traders Ltd., Imoniyame Holdings Ltd., and RMM Global Company Ltd.
Some of them lamented the challenges bedevilling the sector, warning that unless they are speedily addressed they might undermine all efforts to make the sector take its rightful place in the national development agenda
The Managing Director of Sun and Sand Industry, Mrs. Shweta Satija, one of the recipients of the award, called on the Federal Government to address the myriad challenges facing the non-oil exporters in the country.
Satija said lack of basic infrastructure, paucity of funds and unfavourable business environment, among others, had been the major challenges facing the non-oil products exporters in the country.
The CEO said there was the need for government to put in place policies to support exporters as well as embark on infrastructure development that would enhance the growth of the sector. “The infrastructures need attention to guarantee smooth operation of the non oil sector, there is also need for good policy in place for the sustainability of local manufacturers and producers in the tough competition globally”, she added.
While commending the government on some of the measures put in place to assist the exporters, the Sun and Sand boss said that the company had put in place an expansion programme that would usher into the country more investors.
“The collective team of management and workers of the company are working to spread its wings to invest in some other areas which include mining of precious metal like gold and tin in Nigeria. This step is towards backward integration
“Our goal is not only promoting business activities but more interested in integrating Indo-African communities together and make them understanding each other and strengthening their cultural ties to create a better image of Nigeria to attract global investors.”
SUN and Sand Industries, which won the Best Exporter of the Year for two consecutive years, was incorporated in 2001 to manufacture aluminium, copper, lead and aluminium wire rods.
Another awardee, Mr. Dimeji Owofemi, the Managing Director of Multi-Trex Integrated Foods Plc., who also toed the line of Sun and Sand, said the provision of the infrastructure would not only grow the sector but also address other problems in the country, including unemployment.
He bemoaned that most of the financial intervention by the government are not accessible by the exporters. Owofemi also called on the government to ensure proper funding of the sector by providing enabling policy that will make exporters access the available loan seamlessly.
An exporter and Director, Plantation Industries Limited, Taiwo Ayoade, also noted the major challenge for processing and manufacturing company in Nigeria is energy. “We are processing cocoa into cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, cocoa cake and cocoa powder so as at now we are operating on 100 per cent generator almost 24 hours every day.
“The major problem is energy; if in Nigeria we are saying that we are using 40,000 litres of diesel per day, which is about N600,000, that is giving us about N15 million in a month that is well over N180 million in a year.
“And a similar company, cocoa processing company in Ghana where they have good electricity is just spending ten per cent of what we are spending, which will be less than N1 million in a month where we are spending about N18 million in a month.
“If we are taking these products to the same export market to sell, you can ask the question how do we sell at the same price and how do we break even? I can tell you that this is a serious challenge for us to break through; talk less of making a head way”, he added.
Ayoade, who acknowledged the efforts government was putting in place to address the problem, however said the effect was not yet felt, however called for speedy acceleration of the implementation of the policy on infrastructure development.
The Executive Director of NEPC, David Adulugba, while congratulating the awardees, said that the award was to enhance the growth of the non-oil export by encouraging other exporters.