James Emejo in Abuja
The Executive Director/Chief Executive, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Dr. Ezra Yakusak, yesterday said the country aims to generate $5 billion from outsourcing and IT-enabled export services by 2024.
He said the outsourcing industry has the capacity to boost human capital, drive the economy and bring about emerging technologies among others.
Speaking at the opening of the national conference on International Trade-in-Services in Nigeria which was organised by the council, Yakusak identified services outsourced to include financial, advertising, courier, customer support services, and logistics, among others.
He said Nigeria was gradually moving and focusing more on export of services being an area that had been neglected for a long time.
Yakusak said, “It has so much potential and if our services sector is well harnessed, we can earn more than the $4.8 billion we are earning from our products. We are looking at five billion dollars in 2024.”
He said the realisation of the pivotal role of the services sector in the diversification of the country’s export base, foreign exchange generation, and creation of employment and incomes, motivated the NEPC to carve out the trade-in services unit in 2006 as the sole unit responsible for issues of international trade in services.
Pursuant to this, he said the council came up with initiatives to identify and highlight the potential of exportable services in the sector that could be packaged and marketed regionally and internationally in a purposeful and holistic manner in collaboration with the stakeholders.
The NEPC boss also explained that it was in appreciation of this fact that the council collaborated with the Commonwealth Secretariat and developed a National Services Sector Export Strategy with four sectors identified as priority areas including finance, Information Communication Technology (ICT), entertainment (music and film), and education.
Yakusak said the council was also working on other services-related activities aimed at taping from the resource of the sector.
He noted that about a month ago, the council in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, organised a football talent hunt in Abuja with the aim of addressing the challenges of youth restiveness by encouraging youth participation in the non-oil export value chain, as part of the Council’s Export4Survival campaign as well as mainstream them into export activities through the Youth for Export Programme.
He said, “I am delighted to inform you that at the end of the five-day talent hunt, 3 players were selected and signed on to a club in Latvia.
“I want to reiterate that Trade in services has emerged as the driving force that shapes the global economic landscape of countries. In essence, the future of global trade is services.
“I am therefore optimistic that at the end of this conference, we shall design a road map for the services sector to thrive in Nigeria.”
In her keynote address, however, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, commended the NEPC for the conference and bringing together stakeholders from various sectors to brainstorm on the important topic that is crucial to economic diversification.
Represented by the Director of Trade in the Ministry, Mr. Suleiman Audu, she said, “I am confident that by focusing on outsourcing and information technology-enabled services, Nigeria can position itself as a global leader in this dynamic industry.
“Through the implementation of favorable policies, skills development, infrastructure enhancement, and strategic partnerships. We can create an ecosystem that attracts investments, nurtures talent, and delivers world-class outsourcing solutions.
“Let us seize this opportunity, leverage our strengths, and work collaboratively to make Nigeria a shining beacon of excellence in the global outsourcing and Information Technology Enabled Services landscape.”
Ngige said Nigeria currently stands at the crossroads of technological advancement and economic growth, adding that the potential for her to become a key player in the international trade in the services sector has never been greater.
She said the country’s burgeoning population presented a tremendous advantage, providing a rich pool of skilled and talented professionals who are ready to contribute to the global outsourcing landscape, coupled with the country’s high usage of GSM technology which demonstrates adaptability and readiness to embrace the digital age.