From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to bring to fruition its targets to realize at least $30 billion in the next 10 years from zero oil export being spearheaded by the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) as multiple approaches to diversifying the economy and save the country from depending on oil.
The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Segun Awolowo, said this when he met President Muhammadu Buhari, Friday to brief him on the plans to realize this target.
The NEPC boss while admitting the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, assured that Nigeria can get $30 billion in terms of non oil export as projected.
According to him, “To say 2020 was a year of surprises would be an understatement – the world is still counting the devastating effects such as the loss of $3.7 trillion of economic output, 225 million jobs, and over two million lives. The biggest surprise was Nigeria’s swift recovery from recession in Q4 of 2020. We woke up to the good news yesterday.
“Congratulations to Mr President! In a now less predictable, less reliable and
less generous world, he has definitely demonstrated with his leadership that we
are able to build a resilient economy that can absorb all global shocks, whatever
they may be, known and unknown.
Awolowo added: “But more importantly, we must just continue, we must increase production and productivity all across the two sectors that the zero oil plan is postulating for the country and then we get out of it.
“We cannot run an economy that 90 percent of our earnings is from crude oil. It is just not working and that is what we are seeing through out the years when we went into first recession when the world oil prices stood worldwide.”
While noting the changing world dynamics, he said: “We need to move again from just raw materials, we need to look at the entire value chain and that is where you create jobs and that is where you earn more money.
“So ten years time frame we are looking at to get to $30 billion but we must be consistent, we must invest more in the non oil sector than looking for oil.”
Awolowo while acknowledging the president’s support to NEPC and the non-oil export sector, recalled that the non-oil exports sector was experiencing challenges, especially with the basic incentive, the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) being suspended, with over N350 billion in unpaid EEG claims.
He explained that: “The situation had dire effects on exporters, some shut down plants, some laid off people thereby increasing the numbers of unemployed population. Mr President rescued the situation with his approval of the new EEG scheme.”
On the implementation of the Zero Oil Plan, the NEPC boss affirmed that it has received enormous support and buy-in even as it is integrated in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, adding that the National Economic Council has set up a National Committee on Exports to drive it.
Awolowo further remarked: “The entire world is now raising a lot of concerns about the long-term devastating impacts of oil and focusing on climate change. The unpredictability on oil prices
will not stop. First 2008, oil price crashed due to global financial crises; then in 2014 oil price crashed due to shale over production; then in 2020, oil price crashed due to COVID.
“We have seen a return to a positive GDP growth in last quarter of 2020. We have now seen strong recoveries in Agriculture (growth of 3.4%) and Services, and those sectors put a lid on 2020 declines.
“We have achieved a lot, but we continue to get requests from all the States for Export programmes. And these initiatives touch the grassroots, women, youths, creates hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
Outlining the improvements achieved in non-oil export products and jobs created across the country, Awolowo said: “Even for what we are doing there now on this, we need to scale it up, and take it to more States. It is projects like these that we need to truly become an ‘Export Nation’
We just need to scale up our Zero Oil plan, people so it reaches and touches more.
“We are also positioning to take advantage of the great potentials of the global services sector, in that regard, we are working with the newly created Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy to achieve export inclusion for youths.
“NEPC has begun the implementation of the Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP). It is phenomenal
commitment by the Federal
Government to non-oil exports, and the first of its kind in Nigeria’s history.
“The EEFP will create jobs, employ women and youths. We will make sure the money gets to our exporting companies that really need it and expand the space for participation in non-oil exports by engaging in the entire eco-system including value chains. Money will not be concentrated in a few hands. We are moving from #Pandemic2Prosperity.”
He observed that the biggest surprise has been Nigeria’s swift recovery from recession in Q4 of 2020 and congratulated the president for his effort.
“In a now less predictable, less reliable and less generous world, he has definitely demonstrated with his leadership that we are able to build a resilient economy that can absorb all global shocks, whatever they may be, known and unknown,” Awolowo stated.