The Executive Director of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Mr Segun Awolowo said at the weekend that there are 22 products from non-oil sector from which Nigeria can earn $150 billion and create 500,000 export-oriented jobs through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in Niamey, Niger Republic.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after a meeting with the president, Awolowo said some of the products the country can earn foreign exchange are cocoa, cotton, cement, leather, cashew, sesame, shea butter, palm oil, fertilizer, petrochemicals and rubber, among others.
“I briefed him on the setting up of national committee on export promotion by National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by the governor of Jigawa State and what we are working in order to diversify the economy.
“What we hope to achieve is to raise more revenue for Nigeria from other sources. You know 90 percent of our revenue is from oil and we cannot survive. Even though oil prices are rising a bit because of Iran, there is problem there. But we should not rest on our oars because, those days of $140 per barrel is gone forever. So we have to look inwards and produce more.
“The zero oil plan is about raising production and productivity, we identified 22 sectors where we can earn foreign exchange apart from oil. We are hoping that in the next 10-15 years we will be able to raise $150 billion from sources outside oil.
“That is what we are working on and we are galvanizing the whole states behind us in other to raise production and productivity. We are working with the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to achieve this. You know the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN just announced an initiative on five of our products and giving them low interest rates to farm and raise production,” he said.
Awolowo said cocoa is an immediate win for the country “because, it’s been our number one non-oil revenue making.”
“But we are on less than 300,000 metric tons, Ghana is heading to 900,000, Cote d’ Ivoire almost two million metric. So, how do we compete? Meanwhile if you see the landmass in Nigeria you can imagine what we can do.
“Another sector is shea nut, cashew is another breadwinner for us, so let’s raise production, let’s give our farmers, plantations low interest loan so that they can raise productio n for us. We are also looking at value addition for all because that is the way you create jobs, we cannot continue to sell the raw materials,” he said.
On packaging and substandard products, the NEPC boss said: “Our products are no longer substandard and we are exporting all over West Africa and Inter-land Africa. We have a few challenges here and there but I always tell people, the journey of processing raw materials to producing goods is not going to happen over night.
“We are going to have rejects but we will not succumb to them. Our packaging is improving and we are even packaging and labeling in different languages so we can get into those markets, particularly when Africa opens up for us now. For instance, you know we use to send our goods to West African countries but you know we are surrounded by Francophone countries and we don’t even label our products in French but now we are not even doing that.”