From Uche Usim, Abuja
Nigerians are leveraging the recently launched Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Trade Promotion Organizations (TPOs) to draw from the N50 billion Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP) aimed at increasing the volume of non-oil trade within the region.
The Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo, is also the inaugural President of the ECOWAS TPOs and the NEPC is now repositioning the nation’s export through the implementation of its N50 billion Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP), a part of the Economic Sustainability Plan whose development and implementation is being led by the Vice President.
The EEFP is expected to significantly raise the volume of non-oil exports in the country, and it’s a spin-off of the zero oil plan developed by Awolowo and approved by the President.
Besides providing financial support for the average Nigerian exporter, the EEFP is also going to see the establishment of top-notch warehouses in the country close to airports where Nigerian goods meant for export would be packaged to global competitive standards ahead of their exportation.
The EEFP, in line with the Federal Government’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), is focused on cushioning the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on non-oil export businesses, thereby safeguarding jobs and creating new ones.
Earlier last March, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (MITI), Otunba Niyi Adebayo, officially flagged off the EEFP and also launched the first online Grant Management Portal (GMP) for non-oil exports. While the EEFP is being implemented by the NEPC, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment is the supervisory body over the agency and its operations.It was disclosed that although the programme anticipated 500 beneficiaries.But since its launch, it has received over 3,500 applications for the grant, out of which over 2,000 were verified after meeting the eligibility criteria.
Government officials say further details and plans on disbursement to final successful beneficiaries are being awaited.
Aside from being an intervention to save and create jobs, Adebayo noted that the programme “will support resilience in shoring up foreign exchange, diversification, modernisation of Nigeria’s economy and acceleration of economic growth and economic support.”
Under the EEFP, there are 16 programmes as approved in the Implementation work plan under seven workstreams namely – capacity building, emergency interventions, export aggregation, export inclusion, export trade facilitation, institutional strengthening and market development.
For instance, the emergency intervention is to support existing exporters in responding to shocks caused by COVID-19, while market development involves penetrating identified export markets, value chain analysis for priority products, leveraging African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and other trade treaties.
Considering the significant role it plays in growing the Nigerian economy, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are the target group of support from the EEFP and the Export Development Fund (EDF).