With the mandate of diversifying Nigeria’s economy from mono-product to multi-product, the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, NEPC, appears to be turning the challenges posed by the current recession to opportunities. It indeed sounds gratifying that rather than reeling under the multiplicity of the problems occasioned by the economic downturn, the Council is expanding the frontiers of diversification in the country.
Given the commitment of the present administration at creating different streams of revenue for the country, it was not a surprised that NEPC is pursuing its core objectives with a renewed vigour. For an agency that has been in existence for 41 years, the need to diversify could not be described as new, but the commitment to its objectives at a time like this has not stopped attracting much attention.
Findings showed that many policies aimed at boosting the current efforts at diversifying have been introduced under the present leadership of NEPC. From agriculture, food processing to the encouragement of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SMEs, among others, the Council is ensuring that the nation’s export potentialities are realized within a reasonable time frame.
Some programmes identified to have been commenced by the Council include Zero Oil Plan Initiative, ZOPI, Women in Export Development, Capacity Building for Exports, Cashew Processing for Export, Strategic Partnership with Los Angeles University and CBI Technical Support for Promotion of Nigeria’s Exports among others. On ZOPI, the Council is working towards boosting the supply of foreign exchange from non-oil sectors by driving growth in five key areas which include concentration on generating US$30billion from 11 selected strategic export products, exploring the competencies, comparative and competitive advantages of States and Zones through the One State One Product programme, domestic sourcing of products through the launch of first National Export Aggregator and Strengthening of Export Development Fund ,EDF, scheme, and prioritization of Nigerian exports to 22 newly targeted Export destinations.
Specifically, the aims of the programmes were discovered to include growing of non-oil foreign exchange from $2.7 billion today to $30 billion, diversification of export base from raw materials to realization of $706 million non-oil export to West Africa Sub-region by 2017, increasing non-oil export as a percentage of total export from 5 percent to 20 percent by 2018, increasing participation of SMEs in export trade by 50 percent and creation of 1.5 million new jobs in the SME sector by 2020. In addition, the NEPC and the Centre for Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI) Netherlands are currently administering a capacity building programme for the promotion of non-oil exports and improved access to European Union markets.
This initiative, it was gathered, is part of an effort to bring about economic empowerment of Nigerians with the aim of enabling Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SME) export to the EU market. Indeed, industry analysts found this function to be in line with the present government’s policy on poverty reduction and job creation, especially with the inclusive growth for women.The Council’s collaboration with CBI is to enhance knowledge and implement capacity building as an outcome of needs analysis that will focus on three sectors which are Sesame Seed, Cocoa and Cashew nut as pilot products. The same strategy would also be applied in developing other products. The programme is currently training NEPC Coaches and a group of objectively selected companies drawn from the Sesame Seed, Cocoa and Cashew sub-sectors who are focused to improve the contribution of the non-oil export sector to the economy of Nigeria.
However, the emphasis is on training farmers, processors and exporters as a whole in the entire products value-chain with a view to improving productivity, including establishing a sustainable local processing capacity, for the purposes of exports.It is also understood that the Council facilitated a credit facility for Foodpro, an Ilorin based Cashew manufacturing company to procure cutting-edge equipment and machines for Cashew processing.The objective is to boost cashew export and make the product competitive in the international market.
The NEPC had in 2016, spearheaded the participation of Nigerian Cashew Processors to World Cashew Convention in Singapore to expose stakeholders to new technologies which would result in increased value addition, inclusive growth and job creation.Interestingly, it was learnt that plans have been concluded for Innoson Motors Limited to export 400 vehicles to Mali following the company’s readiness to sign Memorandum of Understanding with Taxi Plus and VIP – two major transport companies based in Mali, for use in the expansion of transport business in that country.This, which is seen as a key achievement, is as part of the outcome of the “Made-in-Nigeria ProductsExhibition” held in Bomako.
The Exhibition was facilitated by NEPC in collaboration with Ginco Group, a Nigerian firm based in Mali to showcase Nigeria’s exportable products. With the support of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, NEPC and ITC launched the ‘SheTrades’ initiative during Women in Export Stakeholders Forum and Exhibition in Abuja on July 13, 2016. The programme seeks to connect one million women entrepreneurs globally by 2020. It is believed that through the forum Nigerian women will be established as part of ongoing efforts to empower women to drive trade-led development. Kurebe, a social critic sent in this piece from Abuja.