Export for survival: One year of sustained efforts

The non-oil exports in Nigeria is presently undergoing transformation with the launching of Export for Survival Initiative by Dr. Ezra Yakusak; the new helmsman of Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, the agency statutorily responsible for the promotion, development and diversification of exports in Nigeria.
What started like an idea is gradually yielding practical result in form of increased exports and contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

The convocation of a two-day national conference with the theme Export for Survival was the necessary first step towards repositioning the non-oil exports in the country. The conference which brought together stakeholders in the sector created opportunities for participants to have robust conversation on the current and emerging global trends, and proffered far-reaching recommendations towards the development and growth of the sector.
Among the quick win measures put in place to aggressively promote non-oil exports in the country were the launching of Export Trade Houses (ETH) in Dubai-United Arab Emirate, Cairo-Egypt, Nairobi-Kenya and Lome-Togo. This market access strategy is highly potent in pushing our made-in Nigeria products to foreign markets. The strategy would enable our products to flood in major cities across the globe. It would also be effective in the Hand-Holding Export programme designed to mentor the potential exporters who are new entrants into the sector. In addition, the ETH would also serve as the veritable tool for conducting Export Market Research to identify the needs and wants of the buyers as well as attracting more potential importers of our local products taking cognizance of the value-chains of the export commodities.

Another significant landmark recorded and closely related to the concept of ETH was the establishment of Domestic Export Warehouses (DEW) in inland dry port to boost non-oil exports. This scheme, to a very large extent, would help solve the problem of storage and supply chain and would further reduce the heavy gridlock at our sea ports. With this arrangement, the warehouse would contain storage facilities for agricultural products, customs clearance agents, NAFDAC officials and all relevant export facilitating and inspection agencies of Government. At the moment, a total of nine (9) operators have been licensed as pilot scheme with the multiplier effect of job creation and poverty alleviation across the value-chain of the exportable commodities.

In the recent release by the NEPC, it is gratifying to note that non-oil exports had recorded some remarkable growth in the first half of 2022 with an export worth of about $2.6 billion representing an increase of 62.37% as against the $1.59 billion in the corresponding year of 2021. Similarly, within the same period, a total of 4.15 million metric tonnes of various products were exported despite the global economic recession that affected most exporters in 2021 and making the non-oil export performance the highest since 2018.

Regarding the One-State, One-product (OSOP) scheme, all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, were at liberty to identify and develop exportable products for which they have comparative advantage. This scheme is fast gaining prominence under the Export for Survival initiative. Products such as fertilizer/urea, sesame seed, cocoa bean, aluminum, processed leather, cement, cashew nut, tomatoes etc are top exportable products contributing to the overall GDP of the country. Following the concerted efforts by the NEPC in developing the 22 priority exportable products, the Federal Government of Nigeria has recently indicated interest to invest in the development of cashew nut for export.
The launching of the Export for Survival by Dr. Yakusak is particularly apt and coming at such auspicious time that the country’s foreign exchange from oil is fast dwindling despite global oil boom arising from Russian-Ukraine war; at a time when the entire world economy is successively plunged into recession, when the naira continue to suffer massive depreciation and when the contribution from non-oil exports to the country’s GDP is still minimal.

The Export for Survival has come to stay as the country’s major bet is diversification to non-oil exports to earn more foreign exchange with a view to addressing the deficit of forex inflows.

Going forward, the NEPC deserves adequate funding in this daunting task of promoting Nigerian non-oil exports. And now that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AcfTA) had been signed and domesticated by African Union member States, it is expected that the Council designs strategies to improve trade within African region by making our made-in Nigeria products readily available in the continent. Also, the four Exports Trade Houses (ETHs) presently in operations are not sufficient, more of such should be opened in some selected part of European, American, Southern African and Asia countries for easy market access.
Another important area that should be accorded high consideration is the Services in Export. Beside the entertainment industry where Nollywood and Kannywood are gaining momentum, other area of interest include sports, finance, Information Technology and Communication, transportation/logistics etc. All these areas are capable of raking in more foreign exchange if properly harnessed.

In conclusion, Dr. Yakusak’s leadership of the NEPC must be commended for initiating the Export for Survival. This dream must be sustained to move the country out of the present economic doldrums. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Usman Ahmadu Penta,
Katcha, Niger state.

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