The Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Exports Promotion Council (NEPC), Segun Awolowo has said that Nigeria informal sector records annual exports of about N41 billion across the West African States.
These include perishables like agriculture produce, animal skin and locally manufactured goods, which are largely not captured by government agencies like the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics.
Speaking in Lagos, during a recent event organised by the Free On Board (FOB) Global Logistics in collaboration with NEPC and assisted by the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc, Awolowo said that Nigerian products are exported across the West African countries.
He specifically said that agricultural products are taken out of the country by different business organisations, but regretted that most of these were informal.
He, however, said the government was aware of this movement, but liberalised the market to allow Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) to thrive.
According to Awolowo, NEPC evolve a programme, ‘one state, one product; in which no fewer than 22 products from the country had been identified for exportation.
He explained that the agency was collaborating with state governments to develop at least one agricultural produce in every state for exportation purpose.
He lamented that many of the cargo aircraft that import goods into the country return empty, but said the government was ready to change the situation by partnering with private investors to develop the economy.
Some of the 22 products the agency was working on to export to Europe, Asia, America, Middle East and Africa include cocoa, cashew, plantain, cassava, orange, leather, banana, garment, ginger, shea butter, sesame seed, cow pea and spices among others.
“Many of the cargo aircraft that come into Nigeria have nothing to take out of the country, yet, there are lots of cargo opportunities in Nigeria especially in the area of agricultural produce. Nigeria is an elephant among the Economic and West African States (ECOWAS) and a lion in Africa with our population of over 200 million people.
“All across ECOWAS, we see our products going out of the country, even though, in informal ways. This is worth about N41 billion annually. The government is aware of this, but decided to look the other way around in order to allow indigenous business to thrive.”
Also the Managing Director FOB, Mr. Oluwajimi Adebakin said the company was willing to collaborate with private organisations in order to develop export out of the country.
Adebakin, appealed to NAHCO and its foreign countries to provide adequate warehousing facilities to accommodate cargo from Nigeria.
He pointed out that the company had the capacity to export 100,000 cargo out of Nigeria regularly and hoped its partners across the world had the facilities to accommodate such huge amount of cargo.
“We seek government support to export agricultural produce out of the country. Government has no need in business, but should just provide the enabling environment for private investors to grow.”
The Group Managing Director, NAHCO, Mrs. Olatokunbo Fagbemi who invited its global partners, include Spain, India, Kuwait, United States and China, said that the ground handling company serves 36 airlines, 16 airports, while its market share stands at 59 per cent.