Zenith GMD harps on diversification of Nigeria’s revenue base
The Director of Trade and Exchange Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Ozoemena Nnaji, has called for the establishment of an inclusive export control board, comprising both government and private sector stakeholders to increase non-oil export in the country.
He spoke at a virtual trade forum organised by Zenith Bank, where its Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, stressed the need for the country to continue to push for policies to help in diversifying the country’s revenue base.
The forum, which drew participants from the country’s non-oil sector had “Prospects of non-oil export during and post COVID-19,” as its theme.
In her contribution, Nnaji said: “You will agree that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is another opportunity for a wake-up call for this country, as it has once again exposed the overdependence of the Nigerian economy on one product, which is oil.
“The slowdown in oil production and other disruptions due to the forced lockdown around the globe have caused a decline in the demand and price of crude oil bringing to fore again a renewed policy debate on the need for a deeper policy in the non-oil sector as a means of cushioning the impact of global shocks on the Nigerian economy.”
She stated that while the CBN as the monetary arm of government was doing a lot, a lot more needed to be done by other stakeholders in the non-oil sector.
“I think there should be an establishment of an inclusive export policy control board, which primary responsibility will be to tackle the bottlenecks being faced by Nigerian exporters in the export value chain.
“This will include follow-up and measurement of performance and outcomes of policies emanating from this collaborative effort. These efforts should include the federal government and state governments, Ministry of Finance and National Planning, federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, the NEXIM and other stakeholders in the development of export trade in the country.
“Some of the outcomes to be measured would be risks moderation in the export value chain, export credit services, investment maturity periods, port managements, lower transactions cost for exporters, export procedures and export financing for better terms for exports.”
According to her, the initiative will reduce risks related to exports, in the agriculture value.
She added: “We also think there should be a Nigerian private sector collaboration to reduce or eliminate risks and waste within the non-oil export value chain, and get a better understanding of all the export ecosystem.
“I think there is a lack of information and for people that have goods to export, there are some bottlenecks and I think that a collaborative effort will ease some of these bottlenecks.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stifle international trade and disrupt businesses and supply chains, it is important that attention is paid to the non-oil sector for the economic stability of the nation.
“Optimal attention should be given to sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, information technology and most importantly the SME sector, which can drive job creation, improve industrialisation, increase GDP performance and play a critical role in the process of economic growth.”
Earlier, in his opening remarks, Onyeagwu had said: “One of the areas the pandemic has affected us as a country is the fact that our earnings from crude have been seriously impacted. Our export earnings from crude is seriously under pressure and that is why we have foreign exchange challenges and the exchange rate is where it is because we have not developed our export potentials.
“For me, there two things to do in dealing with the foreign exchange challenges: Firstly, we need to change our taste bud and secondly, we need to explore and do a lot more of exports.
“For anybody who is looking for a transition out of the pandemic, whether as an individual or as a nation, the anchor point and masterstroke you cannot make a mistake is to go back to develop our agricultural business.”
Also speaking on the impact improved non-oil export would have on the nation, he said: “Yesterday, we had a Bankers’ Committee meeting and the call from the CBN governor was to go ahead and promote the drive for export. If you ask some people, they would speculate the increase in the exchange rate but exchange rate can have a reversal and the way for it to have a reversal is to increase export business.”