“There’s a real sweet spot between challenge and hope; leaders make pathways that keep both firmly in view” – Marshall Ganz.
For years Nigerians in the export business have been struggling with multiple challenges that have led to vociferous calls for practical solutions. The missing link in these loud calls however, was that they were bereft of suggestions for practical approach to tackling the challenges. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under Mr. Godwin Emefiele and his management team came up with what analysts have variously described as innovative solution – a forex rebate for some 150 Nigerian exporters.
To give teeth to the rebate policy, the apex bank reportedly released N3.5 billion to the150 exporters as foreign exchange, FX, rebate under the Race To $200 billion (RT 200) programme.
To be sure, it is aimed at raising $200 billion FX earnings through non-oil proceeds over the next three to five years. That is clearly to industry analysts long ago, following the disbursement of the N3.5billion.
A Non-Oil Exports Proceeds Repatriation Rebate Scheme, is available to incentivise exporters in the non-oil sector to repatriate and sell export proceeds in the official FX market. And what does the CBN do? It pays rebate of N65 for every dollar repatriated and sold in the Investors & Exporters (I&E) window to authorised dealer banks for third party use. Furthermore, reports said “the apex bank also pays rebate of N35 for every dollar repatriated and sold into the I&E for own use for eligible transactions only, provided the spread is not more than 10 kobo.”.
Interestingly, the apex bank also stipulated that payment of the incentives shall be quarterly with exporters that qualify credited within just a week after the end of the quarter.
I came across a considerable number of comprehensive news reports by the nation’s electronic and print media, on the policy, that sought to capture the RT 200 more clearly. Indeed, the performance of the RT 200 programme in the first quarter, Q1 ’22 was captured succinctly by the Managing Director/Chief Executive, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe. She revealed that 150 exporters repatriated $60 million as export proceeds and qualified for N3.5 billion rebate under the programme.
Going a step further, she confirmed that the CBN Governor, Mr. Gowin Emefiele, first ordered the immediate release of the rebate to the exporters through their respective banks.
It would be recalled that Onyeali-Ikpe spoke at a virtual press briefing at the end of the Bankers Committee meeting. Value was also added to the briefing by the Managing Director/Chief Executive of GTBank Limited, Miriam Olusanya; MD/CEO Sterling Bank Plc, Abubakar Suleiman; MD/CEO, Wema Bank Plc, Ademola Adebise; Director, Banking Supervision of the CBN, Haruna Mustafa; and Director, Corporate Communication of the apex bank – Osita Nwanisobi.
Let us take a second look at the crux of Fidelity Bank MD’s point: “There are 150 customers at various levels, some under the finished goods categories and some under the semi-finished goods categories. The money was only released today for this quarter. It is going to be paid quarterly and N3.5 billion will be paid to the 150 customers that I mentioned earlier on.”
Another interesting policy of the apex Bank that came on the heels of rebate on forex for the over 100 Nigerian exporters was the e-naira. Here also, experts spoke glowingly on the performance of the e-Naira, the digital currency introduced by CBN last year. They variously stated, at that time, that the e-naira has so far achieved consumer wallets of 165,000 and merchant wallets of 2,800 with 756,000 app downloads.
Hear what the GT Bank executive has had to say on that: “As we all know, the future of currency is digital and the CBN has also realised this fact and has proactively pioneered the central bank digital currency, CBDC, in Africa.”
She also explained that as for other countries, most of them were still at the research and development stage, while only two of them are in the pilot phase. She then declared: “So we pioneered this in October last year which was six months ago and since this was done we have seen over 756,000 downloads of the app.”
She the noted that in terms of consumer wallet, “we have seen 165,000 consumer wallets and 2,800 merchant wallets. Moving onto phase 2, the plan is to onboard the unbanked using the USSD platform. So this will be able to aid financial inclusion.”
It is heartwarming to policy analysts that the the forex rebate has recorded tremendous impact, along with the e-naira policy.
As a team leader with an eye for revlotuonary ideas, the apex Bank Bank Governor – Mr. Mr. Emefiele has taken bold.nad courageous steps aimed at giving the nation’s economic a swift jerk for good. Some said from the point the man and his management team wriggled Nigeria out of recession twice, he has shown prove of efficiency and effectiveness in policy initiation and implementation.
It is evident that the CBN’s support to the 150 exporters and the efficient implementation of the e-naira policy have had an unprecedented impact on the national economy, not withstanding the current global insecurity and the attendant economic challenges.
Dambatta, a veteran journalist, writes from Kaduna via [email protected]*