Nigeria Must Scale-up None-oil Exports for Economic Growth’

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Bennett Oghifo

There is need to scale up non-oil exports from Nigeria and improve the production capacity of Nigerians for the nation to be able to compete favorably in the global market.

Increase in non-oil exports will also help the nation to get out of it current economic slow down.

These remarks were made by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr Segun Awolowo, during the launch of Zero to Export programme, organised by the NEPC in partnership with Fidelity Bank in Lagos, recently.

Thursday in Lagos stressed Ni need to scale up non-oil exports from Nigeria and the production capacity of Nigerians for the nation to be able to compete favorably in the global market and get out of it current economic doldrums.

Awolowo said other countries, including the United States, relied on non-oil exports to come out of recession, stating that dwindling oil revenue could be used to fuel the growth of non-oil export in the nation.

Non-oil export, he said was the solution to the current economic crunch in the nation, adding that Nigeria the nation’s oil revenue had dwindled from 70 billion dollars to 40 billion dollars between 2014 and 2015, making it a loss of 30 billion dollars in 12 months.

According to him, there were indications that the oil revenue would still reduce in 2016, and that an annual import bill of 50 billion dollars was what Nigeria has been relying on while in the real sense had made a loss of 30 billion dollars within a period of twelve months in our oil revenue.

He said that there was need to can scale up production of non-oil export and production capacity of Nigerians for the nation to take its rightful place in the global market.

The event was also used as a platform for the graduation of the 4th set of trainees under the `Zero to Export` initiative and the inauguration of the 5th session to train 80 participants in the South West, the NEPC boss said that that President Obama after the collapse of the US economy explored exportation as a means to bounce back from recession adding that Mexico, an oil producing nation was where Nigeria was today about 30 years ago and that it was able to use non-oil export to recover from recession.

Awolowo said two years ago, it was discovered that that services was what was driving the GDP of Nigeria citing ICT, telecommunications and banking industries as examples drawing a conclusion that Nigeria’s economy was already diversified but that Nigerians were not producing.

He said that the non-oil exports would soon take over from oil exports to drive the nation’s economy because oil revenue was a great opportunity for the growth of non-oil export if properly harnessed.

“The economy is already diversified, it is just that you are not producing and that is why oil was the one giving Nigeria its revenue.

“Mexico is an oil producing country and was where Nigeria is today about 30 years ago. They are not exporting oil but in agro business, Mexico is doing 398 billion dollars annually in non-oil exports.

“We need to focus on non-oil exports, especially after the International Trade Centre has stated that Nigeria loses more than 12 billion dollars annually to informal non-oil export trade through our porous borders.”

He said the top 20 richest countries were exporting countries, and “this goes to show that no country can build wealth for itself and coming generations without exporting.

“The Zero to Export Programme, one of our initiatives, is one that simply trains selected individuals and company representatives who know nothing about exports and train them in the basics of exporting non-oil products and guide them through starting till they become big exporters.

“The major challenge is not that we lack what to export, we have over 100 globally export-ready commodities and these are even in its crude form. Most of our items are still crude, shea butter, cashew, ginger, cables, steel, kernel, agricultural products, and there is still capacity gap in the best global practices to make them export-worthy,” he said.

Awolowo said the council in recent times had been engaging in export packaging clinics which included, capacity building, packaging and labeling, export processes information, among others and advised would be exporters to take advantage of the various training programmes.

Awolowo advised women to take advantage of the She-Trades programme offered by the International Trade Centre for women exporters under the council urging them to log on to www.shetradesict to get more information.He commenmded Fidelity Bank for being the SME bank in Nigeria sponsoring and providing capacity building programmes and special funds for non-oil exporters.

Earlier, NEPC’s South West Regional Cooordinator, Mr Babatunde Faleke, said that the council would not only develop capacity of aspiring exporters but will train them through all the procedures, documentation and as well provide the exporters the logistics to actualize their visions.

“We have a deal that you must export,“ he told the trainees and grandaunts.

The Managing Director/CEO of Fidelity Bank, Mr NnamdiOkonkwo said that Nigeria is “at crossroads“ and that export was a compulsory option which the Central Bank of Nigeria had thrown its weight behind.

Okonkwo said that Fidelity Bank appreciated the value chain of non-oil exporters and was offering support to exporters through all the stages from production to processing down to the final stage of export, adding that, the bank was also partnering with Lagos Business School to train exporters to ensure that they do not make mistakes.

He also informed that Fidelity Bank was doing single digit interest rates on non-oil exports to encourage more entrants.

At the session, some graduating students were given the opportunity to relate their success stories.

One of the grandaunts, a retiree, Mr Babatunde Akinola, told the session that he took to knowledge seeking before going into the business, adding that, in the course of his training, he was able to successfully export seven containers of Hibiscus to Mexico.

He said that in some of the training sessions the NEPC physically took the students to the sources of various produce across the country to enable them know the right places to get agro produce.

“I want to personally thank Mr Awe (NEPC Consultant) and NEPC that I have not made too many mistakes,“ he said.

Mr Femi Awe, NEPC’s Consultant in the programme said that the trainees were not only trained for capacity but were merged into cooperative groups to provide easier access to funding from financial institutions.

Awe who received cheers and standing ovations from the students at every mention of his contributions warned the grandaunts that fraud was not restricted to Nigeria but that they were in abundance across the globe when it pertained export processes.

“All over the world there are sharp practices and knowledge is key,“ he said.

About 50 companies were trained under the 4th programme and the next Zero to Export Training Scheduled to begin in the first week of August will coach 80 companies.