By Abubakar Yunusa
The Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Kashim Shettima, has emphasized the need for our country to wholeheartedly embrace non-oil export trade as an intelligent strategy to accelerate economic growth and bolster our foreign exchange reserves.
Senator Shettima made this call on Wednesday at the 2nd National Conference on Non-Oil Export, themed “Building a Sustainable National Economy through Non-Oil Export,” organized by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in Abuja.
The Vice President, represented by Jumoke Oduwole, the Special Adviser to the President on Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) and Investment, highlighted that it is the right time for collaboration to unlock the untapped potential within the non-oil export sector.
“It is time for us to collectively forge a robust, adaptable, and diversified economy that will benefit generations of Nigerians yet to come. We recognize that we cannot achieve our objectives without a diligent and skilled workforce, predictable progressive policies, and robust institutions,” he stated.
“We are relying on the nation to align with economic recovery strategies adopted by Mr. President. To make this a reality, each of us must fulfill our role, and it commences with the recognition that we must make informed decisions to steer our country away from the path of economic stagnation.”
Expanding on this, he mentioned that the Tinubu administration has already begun prioritizing policy coordination and creating a regulatory environment conducive for businesses to thrive, not only within Nigeria but across Africa.
“We are convinced that delivering a sustainable national economy is the inevitable route to escape from an economic quagmire created by being overly reliant on oil revenues and a dependency syndrome.”
In her opening remarks, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, the Honorable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, emphasized that the exportation of goods and services is paramount to helping Nigeria address its current forex challenges, stimulate the economy, and boost entrepreneurship and employment opportunities.
She noted that Nigerian non-oil exports experienced nearly 40% growth in 2022, reaching $4.820 billion, with semi-processed and manufactured products accounting for almost 37% of these exports, surpassing agriculture’s 30%.
“Our focus for exports is locally manufactured value-added products that create both business and employment opportunities. To support local manufacturers, the Federal Government intends to invest N75 billion by March 2024 to strengthen the manufacturing sector. Another fund of N75 billion has been earmarked to support up to 100,000 start-ups and MSMEs at single-digit interest rates.”
Earlier, Dr. Ezra Yakusak, the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), explained that the momentum in the non-oil export sector must not only be sustained but also lead to new policy directions that will further enhance the sector’s development.
He highlighted the relevance of this year’s conference theme, “Building a Sustainable National Economy through Non-Oil Export,” in light of the current economic realities of dwindling government revenues and foreign exchange deficits, demonstrating that crude oil can no longer sustain our economy.
“This conference aims to reinforce our message of the Export4Survival campaign, emphasizing the need for Nigerians to adopt an export culture for sustainable economic development.”