* As NEPC drills entrepreneurs on rigid processes
Entrepreneurs in the South-South can now be assured of financial support should they want to up their games and go into export business.
The Nigerian Export and Import Bank (NEXIM) is pushing entrepreneurs and budding exporters in the South-South zone to tap into its N50Bn non-oil export support fund and join other parts of Nigeria to become viable exporters in the sector.
This is as the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has been drilling the potential exporters in the geopolitical zone on rigid processes to getting export licenses and certification needed to become an exporter.
It was also revealed that over 1000 small businesses also benefited from the fund so far while Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have made it into the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) top 100 non-oil exporters.
The funding aspect was made clear by a NEXIM official, Obol Effem, who made a presentation at a seminar in Port Harcourt on the role of regulatory organizations in non-oil exports value chain on Tuesday, September 22, 2020.
He mentioned several products available in the bank and said there is N1Bn per state fund for each state to identify one product and push to excel in it above any other state and export it. This would make 36 products that Nigeria would excel in export business.
There is also a fund to help the youths and women so that more persons can come into the export window of the economy where funds would no longer be the main headache, as long as the entrepreneurs showed seriousness and capacity. He said the loans come under single digit interest rate.
There is also a refinancing scheme that helps NEXIM to subsidize commercial loans to exporters and fund the extra interest above nine per cent.
Effem said NEXIM was dedicated to reducing the bottleneck hindering export business especially in the era of push for non-oil export. He said Nigeria is focusing on manufacturing, agric processing, solid minerals, and services sectors in the new drive, targeting the West African market, Africa, Asia and the advanced economies.
He explained that though NEXIM is also about imports but that it is very minimal and must be to finance an import that is to produce for export, especially machinery.
Addressing the exporters, the south-south zonal coordinator of NEPC, Joe Itah, said the intensified efforts were in tandem with the drive for export by the Muhammadu Buhari administration that has placed emphasis on diversification of the economy through non-oil exports.
He said the decision has been bolstered by the advent of coronavirus which shut down mono-product economies especially those dependent on oil, thereby exposing almost all countries of the world to new threats, risks, and deaths.
He said: “There is no gain-saying that the work of making non-oil exports to be a major contributor to the economy of Nigeria is onerous one which is too heavy for one single organization to handle.”
This must be why NEPC brought together all agencies and organizations involved in export regulations and inspections to reveal the learning curves needed by every exporter.
A Customs official at the workshop, a deputy superintendent, Musa Y Mohammed, gave the processes exporters must pass through to reduce complications and suffering. He warned that those who fail to comply with due process are those who usually have numerous issues.
Mohammed also warned against engaging non-licensed customs agents in handling exports, saying when such persons failed, the Customs would be blamed. “Contact us to get the genuine agents. Even so, do not go home and relax, follow your agent up, call us if he is not delivering on timelines so that things can be sorted out early”.
He said Customs has brought together all inspecting agencies so that inspection would be done only once.
He made it clear that for export, there are no duties to be paid, but an export processing charge of 0.5 per cent of value.
This position was confirmed by Datonye Jack of Neroil Technologies, the firm handling pre-shipment inspection duties for south-south and east, who warned those operating at free trade zones against thinking they were exempted from inspection and the charges. “The FG must know what you are exporting and the value.”
The NEPC chief trade promotion officer, Abdulkadir Aliyu, gave the processes required to get the export license and all the stages one would pass through to export an item. He said at any point, NEPC would be the fall back centre for an exporter whenever any issue arose, at no extra fee.
Rivers people have a chance to groom their regal garment industry into export brands just the way Delta is doing to Akwa-ocha cloth.