Monday, November 10, 2014

‘Nigeria To Earn $1.6tr From Non-oil Exports In Five Years’

EXECUTIVE Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo, has predicted a boom in the nation’s economy given the Federal Government’s current drive to boost the non-oil export market.

Awolowo said the government had already set machinery in motion to evolve 30 new export markets within Nigeria in the next five years, all capable of making the country attain a 7.1 annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and a financial base of up to $1.6 trillion, as well as five million direct and indirect jobs.

Speaking at the weekend in Abuja during the fourth Annual Media Conference themed, “Building Greater Nation through Sustained Transformation,” he said that NEPC had been making efforts to position the export market as the growth opportunity of choice for private sector earnings and sustainable economic development.

He noted that President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda has ensured steady growth in non-oil export, which according to him fetched the country of $2.970 billion in 2013, a 15.9 percent increase over the $2.561billion in 2012.

According to him, NEPC has designed a game-changing approach towards attaining government’s new initiatives against the backdrop that only 11 new non-oil products were exported in 2013 to 11 countries. However, he lamented that the nation’s non-oil export potentials have not been fully exploited despite endowed natural resources in solid minerals and agriculture.

Awolowo stressed the need for Nigeria to begin to look beyond its oil resources now that the country has stated experiencing a lack of patronage from major oil consumers such as the United State (U.S.), while the crude oil price has suddenly dropped by 25 percent.

Nevertheless, he disclosed that NEPC has developed a “one state, one product” initiative towards promoting the nation’s export markets, with each state being encouraged to specialize in an agricultural product in which it has comparative advantage over others.

“The programme will adopt one product in each state and develop its value chain. It will also adopt key national products such as cocoa, palm produce, cashew, cassava, groundnuts and others for priority value addition and development,” he disclosed.

According to him, this will not be difficult to attain because of the nation’s huge potential as the world’s largest producer of eight agricultural export commodities, including cassava, yam, shea-nuts and sorghum, and a dominant global producer of 15 other products - cocoa, palm produce, potatoes, maize, cashew nuts, gum arabic and kola nut, among others.

He also indicated that while Nigeria remained the world number one producer of shea-nuts, with 325,610 tons in 2010, it is also rated Africa’s number two in production and export of sesame seeds, the bulk of which is exported to such countries as China, Japan, Turkey, Syria and South Korea.

The NEPC chief disclosed that the country has taken a step further towards attaining this dream through a synergy with the World Trade Organisation (WTO), in which case NEPC has set up eight centres in eight local councils for shea-nut/butter in Oyo, Kwara, Kebbi and Niger states, and sesame seeds in Kogi, Benue, Taraba and Borno states to train farmers/processors on good agricultural practice.

More so, he said NEPC has started targeting no fewer than 25,000 jobs from the shea butter value chain, 15,000 jobs from production of sesame seeds, 15,000 jobs from the growth of yam, with high expectations that women would be massively empowered in the process.

He further hinted that government was already repositioning to take full advantage of the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) by developing a broad sector approach in the textile and fashion industries to meet U.S. standard.

NEPC, he added, was also developing the capacity Nigerian youths under the Youths Empowerment Export Skills Acquisition Programme (YEESAP) in collaboration with SURE-P GIS (Graduate Internship Scheme), while the Youths Entrepreneurship Programme (YEP), in collaboration with Abuja Enterprise Agency (AEA), was also ongoing.

Equally planned is an intervention on PINE Export Component, including leather and leather products (Borno), tomatoes for export (Gombe), tea for export on the Mambilla Plateau (Taraba) and hibiscus flowers for export (Adamawa, Bauchi, Taraba, Borno and Yobe).

Other areas of government intervention, he stressed, include development of sesame seeds for export (Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe and Taraba), artisanal, fish and fishery products (Adamawa) as well as an integrated export-related capacity building in all states in the North-East.

Written by Itunu Ajayi, Abuja -