By Daniel Gumm
The enormous responsibility on the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, to diversify the production base of the economy from oil to non-oil and the need for alternative funding sources to develop exportable products and enhance market opportunities for existing ones have again been brought to the front burner by stakeholders in the non-oil export sector.
Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, while receiving the new Chief of Party, USAID/Nigeria Expanded Trade and Transport, NEXTT, Mr. Marc Shiman, in his office in Abuja, said that the council was making effort to access international funds for product development, market research, capacity building for exporters among other technical support that would help enhance the quality of exportable products from Nigeria from development partners such as USAID/NEXTT.
He observed that efforts to diversify the economy would soon yield result as the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP, had identified 13 National Strategic Export Products, NESPs, that will replace oil while it will be supported by two key NEPC initiatives — the One State One Product, OSOP and Nigerian Diaspora Export Programme, NDEX.
The NSEPs are grouped under three categories: Agro Industrial: Palm Oil, Cocoa, Sugar, Rice and Cashew; Mining related: Cement, Iron ore/metals, Auto parts/cars, Aluminum and Oil and gas industrial products: Petroleum products, Fertilizer/Urea, Petrochemical and Menthol.
Awolowo pointed out that the aim of OSOP was to identify and develop in each state of the federation, one non-oil product across its value chain for export, adding that the initiative takes cognisance of the country’s comparative advantage in terms of the vastness of its natural endowments.
On NDEX, he noted that the project has two components — the Nigerian Heritage City and the Nigerian Cuisine Beyond Borders. According to him “This programme is to leverage on the large population of Nigerians in Diaspora as a means of introducing the best of Nigeria to their host countries and communities just like China Town in USA.”
He said that for exporters to leverage on the huge potentials in the sector, there was need for value addition as no nation can survive by merely exporting raw commodities.
Responding, Mr. Shiman, said that about $3 million special fund tagged — “Product Development Fund, PDF, had been made available by USAID for operators along the LAKAJI Corridor Development Project to access under specific guidelines and through a transparent process.