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Fed Govt eyes $100 billion from non-oil sector

The Executive Director, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo, who spoke with The Nation, said the zero oil plan will add a minimum of $150 billion to Nigeria’s foreign reserves over the next 10 years.

He said: “We have rolled out export policies for 22 major products that could generate up to $30 billion in foreign exchange a year.

These include cotton, rice, leather, gold, soya, sugar, cocoa, petrochemicals, fertilizer, palm oil, rubber, cement, tomato, banana, oranges, cashew, cassava, sesame, spices, ginger, shea butter and cowpea.

“The zero oil plan has set a long-term goal of earning 20 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP (that is $100 billion) from non-oil exports. The initial target however was to exceed $30 billion in non-oil exports over the next 10 years.”

Awolowo said the plan is expected to create at least 500, 000 additional jobs yearly, due to an increase in productive and export activities, helping to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs).

According to him, the plan will also lift at least 20 million Nigerians out of poverty. “Our targets are ambitious, but we must be ambitious if we are to achieve effective diversification.

Awolowo said: “The Federal Government is committed to export diversification with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning integrating the zero oil plan as a core component of the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

“The National Economic Council (NEC) has constituted the National Committee on Export Promotion. This committee, chaired by the Jigawa State governor, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, with some state governors and relevant MDAs as members, drives the implementation of the zero oil plan.”

He said strategic sectors identified in the zero oil plan have seen significant growth. “For instance, sesame exports have increased by $153 million since 2016 – an increase of more than 100 per cent

“There has also been significant growth in exports in the cashew, fertiliser, and leather sectors. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved the commencement of the Export Facilitation Initiative for five key non-oil products: cashew, cocoa, palm oil, sesame and shea. This will help producers access affordable loans, further boosting our non-oil exports,” Awolowo said.

The NEPC chief said the services export sector also continues to perform well, adding that estimates from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) show exports of services doubling since 2014, reaching more than $5 billion in 2017.

On the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, Awolowo said while the US and parts of Europe, notably the UK, are looking inwards, Africa and its most populous country Nigeria, are looking outwards.

“The potential is there for us to increase our exports to Africa and we should look at the AfCFTA with excitement and not fear. Egypt, for instance, imports $1.39 billion worth of soya beans annually. Kenya imported $860.5 million worth of iron and steel in 2018.

“These are two very contrasting products, but for both, Nigeria has strong comparative advantage. These are just two examples that show that the demand for products that Nigeria produces already exists on the African continent. We just have to tap into it,” he said.