Deji Elumoye in Abuja
There are indications that the nation’s sole dependence on crude oil revenue may end in the next 10 years if the current efforts being made by government to improve Nigeria’s non-oil exports can be sustained.
The Executive Director/CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo, made this known yesterday while briefing reporters after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja
According to him, within the next decade, Nigeria can get $30 billion in terms of non-oil export despite the effect of the current COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy.
He added: “But more importantly, we must just continue, we must increase production and productivity all across the two sectors that the zero oil plan is postulating for the country and then we get out of it.
“We cannot run an economy that 90 per cent of our earnings are from crude oil. It is just not working and that is what we are seeing throughout the years when we went into first recession when the world oil prices stood worldwide.”
While emphasising on the changing world dynamics, Awolowo declared: “We need to move again from just raw materials, we need to look at the entire value chain and that is where you create jobs and that is where you earn more money.
“So 10 years’ time-frame we are looking at to get to $30 billion but we must be consistent, we must invest more in the non-oil sector than looking for oil.”
The NEPC boss recalled that the non-oil exports sector was experiencing challenges, especially with the basic incentive, the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) being suspended, with over N350 billion in unpaid EEG claims adding that the situation had dire effects on exporters with some shut down plants while some laid off people thereby increasing the number of unemployed population.
Commenting on the implementation of the Zero Oil Plan, Awolowo stressed that it had received enormous support and buy-in even as it is integrated in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, adding that the National Economic Council had set up a National Committee on Exports to drive it.
He further said: “The entire world is now raising a lot of concerns about the long-term devastating impacts of oil and focusing on climate change. The unpredictability on oil prices will not stop. First 2008, oil price crashed due to global financial crises; then in 2014 oil price crashed due to shale over production; then in 2020, oil price crashed due to COVID.
“We have seen a return to a positive GDP growth in last quarter of 2020. We have now seen strong recoveries in Agriculture (growth of 3.4%) and Services, and those sectors put a lid on 2020 declines. We have achieved a lot, but we continue to get requests from all the states for Export programmes. And these initiatives touch the grassroots, women, youths, creates hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
Awolowo listed the improvements achieved in non-oil export products and jobs created across the country, saying “Even for what we are doing there now on this, we need to scale it up, and take it to more States, it is projects like these that we need to truly become an ‘Export Nation’
We just need to scale up our Zero Oil plan, so it reaches and touches more people.
“We are also positioning to take advantage of the great potentials of the global services sector, in that regard, we are working with the newly created Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy to achieve export inclusion for youths.
NEPC has begun the implementation of the Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP). It is phenomenal commitment by the Federal Government to non-oil exports, and the first of its kind in Nigeria’s history.
“The EEFP will create jobs, employ women and youths. We will make sure the money gets to our exporting companies that really need it and expand the space for participation in non-oil exports by engaging in the entire eco-system including value chains. Money will not be concentrated in a few hands. We are moving from #Pandemic2Prosperity.”
According to him, the biggest surprise has been Nigeria’s swift recovery from recession in Q4 of 2020 and congratulated the President for his effort.
His words: “In a now less predictable, less reliable and less generous world, he has definitely demonstrated with his leadership that we are able to build a resilient economy that can absorb all global shocks, whatever they may be, known and unknown”.