‘NEPC, PDF II boost Non-oil export’
Nigeria has been a mono-economy for many years, relying solely on crude oil as her major source of revenue. Before now, agriculture and mining were the primary drivers of Nigeria’s economy, but these have been abandoned since the 70’s as a result of the discovery of oil.
The resultant effect has been a decline in the nation’s economy over the years, leading to massive unemployed and poverty.
The crash in the crude oil prices in the international market, more than anything is a wakeup call for Nigeria. In this regard. This is where the work of Policy Development Facility (PDF II) bears relevance as the organization has been providing targeted assistance to support Nigerian government to implement economic and social reforms towards strengthening the economy by diversifying from oil and promoting non-oil exports.
Closing its 5-year activities in Nigeria, it recently held a Policy Dialogue and an award ceremony, in Abuja, with a view to encouraging key plays in the non-oil export sector to sustain the efforts at making Nigeria a major non-oil export economy.
Addressing participants at the event, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, the ED/CEO of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), said “Nigeria has run a mono-product economy for too long. We have been left vulnerable to oil price shocks, the latest of which we are seeing now with the outbreak of corona virus. Despite academics and policymakers alike knowing that economic, and in particular export diversification, is crucial to our sustainability, true diversification has eluded us.”
Diversification of Nigeria’s economy is believed to be the only viable way to survive the current environment of global economic uncertainty with the volatility of oil price. It certainly presents the most competitive and strategic option for Nigeria in light of her current developmental challenges.
“We must diversify our economy now! And Non-oil Export is one major way to do so,” stressed Mr. Awolowo at the Non-Oil Export Conference and Awards (NECA).
He thanked PDF ll and DFID for supporting the initiative to launch Network of Practicing Non-oil Exporters of Nigeria (NPNEN).
According to him, “We cannot have enough bodies in exporting, because it is key to diversifying Nigeria’s economy. My call is for increased productivity and production all across the sectors of Nigeria so we can really become an export-led economy.”
There is this consensus that Nigeria needs to diversify its exports away from crude oil in relation to its reality and the best way to achieve it has remained a topic of hot debate. Recommendations from the Overseas Development Institute’s (ODI) work:
Supporting Economic Transformation in Nigeria suggests that using non-oil exports in a few selected sectors could have significant impact on economic growth.
MSMEs account for majority of firms and businesses in most countries, and for majority of jobs, yet most MSMEs in Nigeria (amongst which there are many potential exporters) are unable to participate competitively in the global trade value chain due to stifling challenges in the business environment. In addition, they are usually conspicuously missing in trade related policy debates despite their significant role in formal and informal cross-border trade, particularly non-oil export.
To effectively position Nigeria’s MSMEs for the global market, policies should be put in place to address some ‘before the border’ and ‘beyond the border’ issues. However, the political economy of trade policy remains challenging with certain groups dominating the policy discourse and many other local voices unrepresented.
This is why PDF ll launched the Network of Practicing Non-oil Exporters of Nigeria (NPNEN) at its NECA event. “NPNEN is a body set-up to ensure that the voices of non-oil exporters would continue to be heard in a sustainable manner,” said the PDF II Programme Manager, Dr Titilola Akindeinde.
Mr. Awolowo referred to NPNEN as “A powerful advocacy group that will help NEPC itself make demands to government on what we can do to help increase exports all over Nigeria.”
He added that NPNEN is “an extremely laudable initiative and I firmly support this private sector led platform to ensure there is a voice of the Nigerian exporter”.
During the NECA event, government institutions, organised private sector, and relevant development partners were engaged in Non-Oil Export Dialogues.
These dialogues were engaged in two plenary sessions, where key strategies on growing Non-oil Export business in Nigeria were thoroughly discussed. The first plenary session was focused on 2 major areas of intervention: Access to Finance and Access to Markets; while the second session discussed Trade Policy Reforms.
This session was anchored by Nancy Illoh-Nnaji, the Executive Producer of ‘Moneyline with Nancy’, and headed by the Chair for House Committee on Commerce and Investment, Hon. Olufemi Fakeye.
Hon. Olufemi Fakeye (Chair, House Committee on Commerce and Investment), who was also at the event, reiterated the importance of diversification by saying, “If our economy is not export-driven, then we are going to be in trouble.”
Commenting on the viable dialogue, Hon. said, “It would be nice to have a communique out of today’s discussions which can be developed into policy (ies). The various stakeholders here can play different roles to make that happen.” Hon. Olufemi Fakaye believes that this will ensure that private sector voices which have hitherto been under-represented (especially the MSMEs) become effectively engaged to contribute to economic policies.
The event was concluded with a PDF II awards ceremony which was presented in four categories.
Award for Exemplary Service to the Non-oil Export Community of Practice; Award for Outstanding Non-oil Exporters and their contribution to different sectors; Award for Export Supporting Institutions of Government and Award for Exemplary Institutional Governance .
The Recognition Award was presented to:
Starlink Global & Ideal Ltd – for outstanding contribution to promotion of Nigeria Non-Oil Agricultural Exports; Omonide Farms – for exemplary achievement in branding and packaging for Export; 3Timpex – for outstanding contribution to capacity building for exporters; Outsource Global – for outstanding achievement in the Services sector; OSC Fashion College – for outstanding contribution to the fashion industry; XPT Logistics – for exemplary achievement in the Export Logistics Industry; and Godsano Farms Nig. Ltd – for pioneer achievement in Good Agricultural Practices The Award for Export Support Institutions went to: EBES – for Outstanding Achievement in Business Environment Reforms; NEXIM – for leadership in Access to Finance; NEPC – for leadership in Promoting Nigeria Export; CRC Credit Bureau – for Outstanding Facilitation of Access to Finance; NICERT Ltd – for facilitating global conformity of Nigeria Exports; and Dr Vincent Isegbe, DG NAQS – Exemplary Institutional Governance Messrs Olufemi Boyede and Lanre Nwankwo received Awards in recognition of their exemplary services to the Non-Oil Export Community of Practice.
It is hoped that stakeholders at the event, along with other actors in the non-oil export value chain will play their critical roles of making change happen in the Non-oil Export space to ensure improved ease of doing business for MSMEs in global trade.
As Dr. Akindeinde put it, “Exporting and diversification away from oil has become not just a government agenda, but a priority and an imperative for this economy.”