By Princewill Ekwujuru
THE Minister of StateÂ for Commerce and Industry, Mr Humphery Enemakwu Abah has stated that export business is critical to a nationâ€™s economic growth and development, especially at this time of global economic challenges.
Addressing stakeholders at the opening of the two-day roundtable on â€œExporting from Nigeria: Challenges and Solutions: Sectoral Perspective,â€ held in Kano between August 25 and 26, 2009, the minister cited the examples of several countries, including the United States, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, China, Brazil and South Africa, which have repositioned their export sectors for economic prosperity.
Abah, who commended Kononian Ventures Limited (KVL) which organised the Export Roundtable in conjunction with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), observed that globalisation makes it possible for a country to remain relevant economically in the comity of nations.
â€œConscious of this fact,â€ the minister further said, â€œthe Nigerian government over the years has established specialised agencies such as NEPC, NEPIX, NEPZA, NIPC as well as enacted policies that addressed the major problems of supply, demand and prize competitiveness of Nigeriaâ€™s non-oil export.â€
The minister, who was the chief host of the roundtable, said the theme of the conference was timely, considering the challenges of the global economic meltdown.
â€œThis forum is to provide a platform for contributions and presentations from both the private and public sectors that will be useful in appraising the functionality of the existing non-oil promotion polities,â€ Abah said, adding that â€œthe outcome of the dialogue sessions would further enhance the re-designing of the non-oil export roadmap in line with the 7-point agenda of Mr President.â€
In his address, the convener of the roundtable, Mr. Femi Boyede lamented that the non-oil sector has been largely neglected, noting that focus should be on that sector since crude oil prizes remain volatile and unpredictable.
Boyede, who is also Managing Director/CEO of KVL, said that there is the urgent need to diversify Nigeriaâ€™s economy given that oil sources could not be relied upon as a major source of revenue.
He explained that the primary objective of the roundtable, which is now into its third edition, is to serve as the ultimate vehicle for advocacy and public awareness of all trade issues.
This is done by providing a platform for notable stakeholders in the Nigerian export sector to discuss salient issues concerning the Nigerian non-oil export sector.
On his part, the Executive Director/CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Mr David Adulugba, said that declining oil revenue coupled with continuing import demands have put more pressure on Nigeria to stimulate non-oil exports.
He further said: â€œIn response to this, our organisation has stepped up campaign to develop Nigeriaâ€™s product base for export. In the nearest future, the council will assist several states in the establishment of Export Production Villages based on comparative advantage.
“This will not only guarantee local and foreign market but will immensely contribute to a complete turn-around of the Nigerian economic fortunes in line with the vision 2020 of the present administration.â€
Dignitaries at the roundtable included the Kano State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mallam Ibrahim Yakassai, a member of the House of Representativesâ€™ Committee on Commerce and Industry, Hon. Ubale Jakada Kiru, President of the Manufacturersâ€™ Association of Nigeria (MAN), Bashid Borodo and President of the Kano State Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Alhaji Ahmed Rabiu.