Infrastructure must be fixed for non-oil export to succeed – South-South stakeholders

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By Kasarachi Azuka, Asaba

Stakeholders in non-oil exports sector, in South-South geo-political zone, have stressed the  need for the federal and state governments to fix infrastructure  if the strategies on non-oil exports must succeed in the region and country at large.

Such infrastructures include basic amenities like electricity supply, water supply, good road-networks and business friendly environment among other things.

They said that it is when the infrastructures are fixed, then businesses funded would succeed in producing and exporting their products to other countries of the world and bring about the much talked about food security for the nation and its people.

They spoke during the three-day NEXIM’ Bank’s South-South Export Enlightenment and Engagement Forum which kicked off in Asaba, Delta State capital, Tuesday.

The event which has its theme as,  “Maximizing Non-Oil Export Potentials in the South-South Region for Economic Growth”, was organized by NEXIM to create a platform for engagement and useful exchange of views amongst exporters, bankers, policy makers, service providers and other stakeholders in the non-oil sector.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State,  in his  speech at the opening ceremony, said that governments must demonstrate the political will necessary to reposition the South-South state for economic growth and sustainable development.

“By that, I mean, the governments in the region need to lead by example. Good policies are not just enough. Without the necessary commensurate action, they are nothing but empty rhetoric”, said Okowa even as he reeled out the numerous projects embarked upon by his administration to develop and industrialize the state beyond oil.

Godwin Obaseki, Edo State Governor, in his presentation, noted that the key to diversify the economy of the region was the development of infrastructure  like electricity and access to technology which he said the Edo and Delta State are at advantageous position because of 2000 megawatts of power generated.

While lamenting that distribution of the power generated had been a major challenge, he said projects were on to bring the entrepreneurs  together in one place so they could utilize. central facilities  for the success of their businesses.

“What helps us here is the role of government in reducing risks for the entrepreneurs. That’s the way to go on diversification, he said.

In an interview with BusinessDay, Paul Okpue, a lawmaker-turned agriculturalist also decried near absence of infrastructure as a major factor killing businesses including agribusinesses.

“”It is not enough to fund farmers or businesses. Government should turn the loans to grant and stop making farmers look poor. Without infrastructures, the loans or even grants are huge waste, he added.

The Managing Director, NEXIM Bank, Abubakar Bello had disclosed that the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari, launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) with the key objective of diversifying the economy and promoting sustainable economic growth and development.

“A major aspects of the ERGP is the One State One Product (OSOP) programme, which requires every state of the federation to develop at the Sub-national levels.

“To support this programme, the NEXIM Bank, being the Trade Policy Bank of Nigeria, also launched the One State Export Development Programme and earmarked at least N1bn to promote the production and value addition of exportable commodities in every state of the federation.

He said that during the three days programme, the South-South forum would provide an avenue for the bank to promote existing partnership and develop new ones towards enhancing the access of Nigerian exporters to the funds.

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