By Temitope Adebayo
Federal Government (FG) plans to invest N75 billion in the manufacturing sector and launch a new Talent Export Programme (NATEP) to support non-oil exports.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite, made the announcement at the 2nd National Conference on Non-Oil Exports in Abuja.
Uzoka-Anite said that government is committed to diversifying Nigeria’s economy and reducing its reliance on oil exports.
According to her, the non-oil exports grew by almost 40 per cent in 2022, reaching $4.820 billion.
For too long Nigeria has operated a mono-economy, focusing on oil and gas to the detriment of other exportable commodities even as the country’s diversification efforts are beginning to yield success, she noted.
“Nigerian non-oil exports grew by almost 40 per cent in 2022, reaching $4.820 billion. Semi-processed and manufactured products accounted for almost 37% of these exports, surpassing agriculture’s 30 per cent. This is a big step in the right direction.
“We no longer have the luxury of business as usual when it comes to the business of making sure Nigeria succeeds. We can no longer afford to export raw materials cheaply and import finished products at premium prices. That train has stopped and will not be starting again.
“Our focus for exports is locally manufactured value added products that create both business and employment. To support local manufacturers, the Federal Government intends to spend N75 billion by March 2024 to strengthen the manufacturing sector.
“We have also earmarked another fund of N75 billion that will be used to support up to 100,000 start-ups and MSMEs at single digital interest rates. These schemes are complemented by NEPC incentives like the Export Development Fund that aims to prepare and support new exporters wishing to penetrate global markets, by providing training, trade fair participation, financial, and logistics support”, she said.
The Minister explained that the N75 billion investment in the manufacturing sector is aimed at helping Nigerian manufacturers produce high-quality, exportable products, adding that the NATEP initiative will help create one million jobs across Nigeria by positioning the country as an export hub for talent and business process outsourcing in Africa.
Uzoka-Anite also spoke about the importance of regional trade agreements such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in boosting exports.
She said that the government is working to ensure that exporters are aware of how to utilize these opportunities.
The Minister, therefore, called on businesses to explore exports, even in a small way.
She noted that e-commerce platforms, shopping apps and other tech solutions have made it easier for even micro enterprises to consider cross-border trade.
In his welcome address, the Executive Director/CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Dr. Ezra Yakusak, said Nigeria’s non-oil export performance grew by 39.91 per cent in 2022 to $4.820 billion, with about 214 different products exported, ranging from manufactured, semi-processed, solid minerals to raw agricultural products.
Yakusak said that the theme of the conference ‘Building a Sustainable National Economy through Non-Oil Export’, was carefully chosen in view of the current economic realities of dwindling government revenues and foreign exchange deficits.
He said that the non-oil sector is the path to sustainable growth and that the NEPC is saying that all hope is not lost.
“The non-oil sector can salvage our economy and make it even stronger,” he said.
Yakusak also reported that during the maiden edition of the national conference held last year, a 19-point communique was issued.
He said that the Council had taken bold steps to ensure the implementation of the communique, and that some of the projects and programmes that were implemented by the Council, based on the communique, include establishment of three additional Export Trade Houses in Lome-Togo, Nairobi-Kenya, and Hunan Province in China, bringing the total number of the Trade Houses to four.
Yakusak also spoke about the challenges being faced by farmers and exporters of ginger in Nigeria, and the outbreak of a strange disease ravaging ginger farms in Kaduna State.
He called on FG to declare the ginger fungi infestation as a crop pandemic and fight it with the same viciousness that the nation fought the Covid-19 pandemic. (DAILY TIMES)