* Opens export facilities around the world
* Embarks on one-day sensitization workshop in South-South to boost local capacity
By Ignatius Chukwu
The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has disclosed why it is pushing determinedly for non-oil export, saying it is to save the Nigerian economy.
The various projects, schemes, and programmes being executed to build capacity in the non-oil export sector are meant to save the Nigerian economy, so said Segun Awolowo, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), in Port Harcourt Thursday, November 25, 2021.
This is as experts in the Council revealed the building of facilities in some African and overseas countries to warehouse and facilitate Nigerian products in those countries.
The ED/CEO spoke at the one-day sensitization workshop in Port Harcourt for the South-South to build capacity for heads of agric development programmes (ADPs) and heads of trade and commerce ministries in the zone.
Awolowo told the technical experts at the workshop that various schemes were being executed under the National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) aimed at keeping the economy afloat in the face of decline of the oil economy.
In the speech delivered on his behalf by Paulina Ndulaka, a deputy director/trade promotion advisor in the Uyo Export Assistance Office in Akwa Ibom State, the CEO said to ensure equity and fair play, the EEFP team worked in partnership with other agencies and trade groups in the value-chain in designing the road map for the selection of the first 20 states as pilot scheme. This, he said, was for the engagement of farmers and other value-chain operators in the sensitization and capacity-building programme.
Each state of the federation was asked to pick a crop of comparative advantage to develop and create export capabilities so as to earn foreign exchange outside oil/gas.
He said the carefully selected programmes for the six zones of the country were informed by the selection of 10 strategic products to drive the implementation of the zero-oil plan for increased economic growth under the EEFP.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for supporting the scheme as an intervention programme.
NEPC officials at the workshop said the Council pursued the projects and programmes for export even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic because of the determination to save the economy, saying EEFP is to identify gaps and fill them so states can drive exports in the non-oil sector in their states.
In his welcome remarks, the south-south zonal coordinator, Joe Itah, told leaders of the state export committees who are permanent secretaries of Ministries of Commerce and Industry plus the managers of state ADPs that Nigeria is blessed with abundant natural and human resources in addition to good climate condition for growing agric produce for export with value addition for premium prices.
He said jobs would be created along the line, saying with their expertise and experience coupled with the training from NEPC, they would begin to drive export steam in their states.
The Pogramme Director of EEFP, Muhammed Kabir Koko Abdul, who delivered a presentation on Capacity Building Streams, said the scheme was out to identify gaps in producing for export and try to close them, all aimed at boosting non-oil export.
He disclosed that NEPC through the EEFP is creating centres around the world for Nigerian products, saying the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) are the main target in the scheme by helping them into foreign trade points. He mentioned products such as cashew, cassava, cocoa, ginger, leather, palm oil, sesame, shea nut/butter, soya bean, spices and tomato as some of the hottest Nigerian products in the international market.
He said the EEFP is helping to meet certification for the farmers and producers, adding that the emphasis is on adding value before exporting them so as to earn higher prices and to avoid local sanctions for some products that cannot be permitted for export in their raw state.
The coordinator of the workshop, Sop St-Mathew, representative of the National Export Office of NEPC, said the objective included letting the drivers of the export promotion units in states and heads of the ADPs know the kind of training going on in their states from the NEPC scheme. She commended the spirit and determination demonstrated by the stakeholders and experts from the states.
In their remarks, the delegates from the states said they saw much sense in the scheme and thus appealed to the NEPC to keep up with the drive to create exports from the states.
Glory Odu-Oji, Ag Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Commerce in Cross River State who is chairman of the Export Promotion Unit admitted it is their task to find how their states could key into the efforts of the NEPC. Maurice Ogolo from Rivers State Ministry of Agriculture said the scheme is viewed seriously in the state and that the state government is keen to have more than one crop.
He said the state is now a cassava processing hub and that palm oil and rice are equally competing for export attention.
Iyamu Billy from Edo State said the state is an agric hub and that the present governor is keen on driving it, mentioning cassava as a top product. He urged the NEPC to ensure follow-up for such a promising scheme.
His counterpart from Delta State, Oseji Felix, commended NEPC and showed how Delta state was much ahead in pushing for export through dedicated agencies.