NIGERIA Export Promotion Council (NEPC) executive director Segun Awolowo has presented a list of 22 products to President Muhammadu Buhari whose mass production he said could dramatically diversify the economy.
Highly dependent on crude oil sales which accounts for 90% of government revenue, Nigeria is a mono-economy and is thus at the mercy of the vagaries of the global petroleum market. Over recent years, the government has sought to address this by diversifying into several key sectors including solid minerals and agriculture but so far, they are yet to yield substantial revenue.
Set up in the 1970s to provide alternative revenue sources to crude oil, the NEPC was created on the same day as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) with a mandate to match it in revenue. During a recent visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja, Mr Awolowo said the NEPC has identified the areas in which growth is possible and will pursue them vigorously.
According to Mr Awolowo, although the price of crude oil has been rising in recent times, the country cannot survive on oil revenue alone. He added: “Those days of $140 per barrel oil price are gone forever, so, we have to look inwards and produce more.
“Our zero oil plan is about raising production and productivity. We have identified 22 sectors where we can earn foreign exchange, apart from oil and we are hoping that in the next 10 to 15 years, we will be able to raise $150bn from sources outside oil.”
Mr Awolowo also stressed that with the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, Nigeria does not want to be a dumping ground for other economies. He said the president refused to sign the agreement until now until the country was convinced Nigeria is ready, competitive, able to produce more and can help our manufacturers get into the market.
On the quality of products from Nigeria, he said apart from the packaging, the country’s products are no longer substandard, as they are being exported West Africa and across the rest of the continent. He said the president was excited about the work of the committee and promised to give continuous support for the export of the identified commodities.
According to Mr Awolowo, the government’s decision to clear the N350bn backlog of the export expansion grant was a huge incentive to exporters. He said the National Assembly has already approved N190bn out of the amount so far, which is being paid through the Debt Management Office.