Appraising NEPC’s renewed effort to boost non oil export

Our senior correspondent, ABBANOBI-EKU ONYEKA, writes that the renewed effort of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), in promoting and boosting non oil sector of the nation’s economy holds the potential to trigger the desired economic growth, generate needed employment and guarantee sustainable development.
It is no longer news that the non oil sector of the nation’s economy has for decades, suffered avoidable neglect following the discovering of oil in commercial quantity in the late 50s, but what relevant public institutions are doing to reverse this ugly trend and chat a new cause to revamp the sector.
At independence in 1960, the central and regional government did exceedingly well, in terms of economic growth and infrastructural development.
It was the revenue from non oil sector that led to the identification of Eastern region, as the fastest growing economy in that era. The east was notable for oil palm produce, cotton, amongst other cash crops.
The groundnut pyramid in the north, along side herds and skin, oiled the cross border trade in that epoch. The Western region was also not left out as the West was the first to have a television station in black Africa. The famous free education system in the region was also funded with revenue from the non oil sector.
Regrettably, the nation, progressively and gradually abandoned this golden epoch of non oil export and put all her egg in one basket, when it switched to then emerging blackgold economy.
This, experts said, is responsible for the nation’s economic woes, which of course has midwifed large scale corruption in public and private sector, poverty and unacceptable mass unemployment.
It is however, on the strength of the above negatives and noble desire to reverse the trend that the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), under the able leadership of Dr Ezra Yakusak, in August, 2023, launched the Youth for Export Program (YEP), with the objectives to train Nigerian youths to acquire the necessary skills needed to participate effectively in the export value chain.
Other objectives include, but not limited to create a platform that demystifies fear, risk and uncertainties usually associated with export by youth entrepreneurs, while providing opportunity for youths to showcase their talents and abilities to participate in the export market space.
Also, to increase the contribution of youth-led export businesses to the Nigerian economy and; increase non-oil export earnings and make the sector a major contributor to the country’s sustainable economic development.
The agency, which is domiciled under the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), said that as part of plans to attract foreign direct investments into the country, it had been compiling export potentials in all the 774 local government areas of the country.
The Chief Executive Officer ((CEO) of NEPC, Dr Ezra Yakusak, who made this disclosure in Abuja, during the Export4Survival campaign hiking tour, also added that the programme code named, ‘Export 774’ was targeted at identifying exportable products in the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.
Speaking on the ‘Export 774, the NEPC boss said the programme was inspired by the rising non-oil export, valued at $4.8 billion, which he added is the highest ever achieved by the country, even as he disclosed that the NEPC is also training exporters on adding value to their products and ensuring proper packaging that would guarantee acceptability in the world market and reduce incidents of export rejects.
In a related development, through a statement from the Council made available to journalists by
the Head, Corporate Communications NEPC, Mr. Ndubueze Okeke, the CEO said that Nigeria’s quest to meet the rising global demand for cashew nuts has gradually been yielding results as the NEPC and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) are working together to increase the production and processing of the commodity whose market size has been estimated to worth $7.57 Billion.
Represented at the event by the Director of Product Development, Mrs. Evelyn Obidike, the CEO added that the collaborative effort was in line with the Federal Government’s non-oil export diversification agenda.
He noted that the agenda seeks to stimulate expertise, inclusiveness, innovativeness and competitiveness.
The overall outcome, he said is to achieve a paradigm shift by repositioning Nigeria as an exporter of a wide range of value-added high-premium quality cashew products to certified global markets and expedite a successful internationalization process for local stakeholders in the cashew value chain in Nigeria.
Dr. Yakusak said: “We expect that the collaboration will further support gender empowerment, reliable data from empirical research for effective policy formulation and implementation, technical exchanges as well as export competency development. The NEPC together with GIZ MOVE is determined to leverage our unique competencies to deliver direct benefits to local farmers, aggregators, processors, packers, exporters, importers, service providers, export facilitating agencies and prospective investors novel solutions.”
In a remark, the programme lead, GIZ MOVE, Mr. Florain Winckler, expressed optimism that the partnership between both parties will further go a long way in adding value to the Cashew sector by building the capacity of the operators, increasing production and processing of high-quality cashew and thereby make the product competitive in the global market.
Reliable information, he said, revealed that the cashew market size is expected to reach USD 8.91 billion by 2028 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 3.31% from 2023 to 2028.
Similarly, organised another capacity building programme, which targeted Export Desk Officers of various banks.
The theme of the capacity building was, “Enhancing Non-Oil Export Growth through Effective Export Procedures, Documentation and Logistics.
Attributing high interest rates and low disbursement of credit facilities to finance non-oil export trade as one of the major challenges stifling the smooth growth of non-oil export at the event, the NEPC boss observed that access to bank financial services by exporters is one of the major challenges stifling the smooth growth of non-oil export.
This he attributed to high interest rates and low disbursement of credit facilities to finance non-oil export trade, adding that it ultimately affects the nation’s non-oil export performance, stressing that most exporters lack the financial muscle required to set up modern export related industries and ensure production of high quality products.
While noting that the non-oil export sector plays very important role in the economic development of Nigeria, he said that the sector presents great opportunities for more Nigerians to participate in the global market space, just as he informed that it is on record that Nigeria is endowed with immense potential in some of the world’s most traded products such as; cocoa, ginger, cashew, soya bean, sesame seed, palm oil, rubber, shea, gum arabic, among others.
Historically, the NEPC was established through the promulgation of the NEPC Decree No. 26 of 1976 and formally implemented in March 1977, and amended by Decree No. 72 of 1979 and later, by the NEPC Decree No. 41 of 1988. Appended to the law as the Export (Incentives and Miscellaneous Provisions) Decree No.18 of 1986, as well as the NEPC Decree No. 64 of 1992, the missions of the agency were to: spearhead the diversification of the Nigerian economy by expanding and increasing non-oil exports for sustainable and inclusive economic growth; promote the development, diversification of Nigeria’s export trade and; assist in promoting the development of export-related industries in Nigeria, among others.
Since his appointment on 27th of November, 2021, Dr Ezra Yakusak, who was before his appointment, the Director, Policy and Strategy, NEPC, may have been trying to meet up with the mandate of the organisation through the effective contribution of export trade to enhance favorable balance of trade.
Dr Yakusak

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