The Executive Director of the Nigerian Exports Promotion Council, Olusegun Awolowo, has predicted a boom in the Nigeria’s economy, given the current drive by the Federal Government to boost the non-oil export markets to serve the purpose.
Awolowo said the government had already set machinery in motion to evolve 30 new export markets within Nigeria in the next five years, all capable of making Nigeria attain a 7.1 annual Gross Domestic Product growth and a financial base of up to $1.6 trillion.
He said the efforts currently being directed by NEPC would offer not less than five million jobs.
He said the jobs would be directly and indirectly created in the value chain under OSOP.
The NEPC, according to Awolowo, had been making efforts to position the export market as the growth opportunity of choice for private sector earnings and sustainable economic development.
He made this known at the weekend during the 4th Annual Media conference themed: Building Greater Nation through Sustained Transformation, which held in Abuja.
Awolowo saluted the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, which he noted has been ensuring steady growth in non-oil export.
According to him, this has fetched the country $2.970 billion in 2013, a 15.9 per cent increase over $2.561 billion in 2012.
He said the NEPC has designed a game-changing approach towards attaining the new initiatives by the government against the backdrop that only 11 new non-oil products were exported in 2013 to 11 countries.
He lamented that the non-oil export potentials in Nigeria have not been fully exploited despite endowed natural resources – solid minerals, agriculture.
He stressed the need for Nigeria to begin to look beyond its oil resources because the country was already experiencing lack of patronage from major oil consumers like the US, while the crude oil price has suddenly fallen by 25 per cent.
Awolowo, however, disclosed that the NEPC had developed a “one state one product” initiative towards promoting the export markets in Nigeria in which case each state would be encouraged to specialise in the production of an agricultural product on which it has comparative advantage over the others.
He said: “The programme will adopt one product in each state and develop its value chain. It will also adopt key national products such as cocoa, palm produce, cashew, cassava, ground nuts and others for priority value addition and development.”
This, he said would not be difficult to attain because of the huge potential of Nigeria as the world’s largest producer of eight agricultural Export Commodities including Cassava, yams, shea nuts and sorghum, while the country is also a dominant global producer of 15 other products; Cocoa, palm produce, potatoes, maize, cashew nuts, gum arabic and kola nuts, etc.
The NEPC Executive Director also indicated that while Nigeria remains the world number one producer of shea nut, having produced 325,610 tons 2010, it has also been rated as Africa’s number two in the production and export of sesame seeds.
He said the bulk of sesame seeds were exported to countries like China, Japan, Turkey, Republic of Syria and South Korea.
Awolowo disclosed that Nigeria had taken a step further in attaining its dream through a synergy with the World Trade Organisation.
He said in this case, the NEPC had set up eight centres in eight local government areas for shea nut/butter in Oyo, Kwara, Kebbi and Niger States and sesame seeds in Kogi, Benue, Taraba and Borno States to train farmers/processors on Good Agricultural Practice.
He said the NEPC had started targeting not less than 25,000 jobs from the Shea Butter value chain, 15,000 jobs from production of Sesame Seeds, 15,000 jobs from the growth of yam, with high expectations that women would be massively empowered in the process.
The NEPC Executive Director hinted that the government was already repositioning to take full advantage of African Growth Opportunity Act by developing a broad sector approach in the textile and fashion industry to meet US standard.
Awolowo disclosed also that the NEPC had started developing the capacity of Nigerian youths under the Youths Empowerment Export Skills Acquisition Programme in collaboration with SURE-P GIS (Graduate Internship Scheme).
According to him, the Youths Entrepreneurship Programme in collaboration with Abuja Enterprise Agency was also ongoing.
Awolowo said the Federal Government had planned to intervene on PINE Export Component, including leather and leather products (Borno State), Tomatoes for Export (Gombe State), Tea for Export on the Mambilla Plateau (Taraba State) and Hibiscus flowers for Export (Adamawa, Bauchi, Taraba, Borno and Yobe States).
Other areas of intervention by the government, he stressed, include development of Sesame Seeds for Export (Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe and Taraba), artisanal, Fish and Fishery Products (Adamawa) as well as an Integrated export-related capacity building in all states in the North East.