Executive director/chief executive officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, has said the Zero Oil Plan developed by the federal government will help diversify and expand the nation’s ailing economy
Awolowo who said the country’s undoing was her focus on one product said the Zero Oil Plan has identified 11 sectors under category A where Nigeria must be in order to diversify its economy.
In an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP, the NEPC bossobserved that Nigeria has suffered what is called the Dutch Disease in economic terms, a situation where the nation just focus on one product and when the product crashes out, there is nothing left for the country to fall back on.
His words: ‘‘The most important thing for a country is really to have foreign exchange. We must have revenue, we must be able to generate the revenue and for Nigeria, the focus has been demand for foreign exchange.
‘‘But what is more important is the supply of foreign exchange because everybody is going to demand for foreign exchange but when you have your supply, meaning we are exporting other things, we generate foreign exchange which is good. Under the Zero Plan, we have 11 sectors which we say Nigeria should focus on in order to increase our revenue. We target to raise export revenue to about $30 billion by 2025”.
He, however, added that there is a process to follow to achieve this.
According to him, NEPC is working with state governments, ministry of National Planning and Budget and also with its parent ministry in order to realise the nation’s target of economic diversification and expansion.
He noted that the federal government has demonstrated its determination to diversify the country’s economic base from oil and gas resources.
Specifically, he said the council is collaborating with Centre for Promotion of Imports (CPI) in order to boost its capacity to earn more foreign exchange from Sesame seed, cocoa and cashew nut exports.
He pointed out that within the framework of this collaboration, NEPC has decided to focus on three sectors-sesame seed, cocoa and cashew nut as pilot products, with a view to applying same strategies and processes in developing other products.
‘‘Towards this end, officials staff of the council are undergoing a training programme on export marketing and management that would help them provides technical support for Nigerian exporters who wish to export into European Union market”, he said.
On how far Nigeria has gone to attain international standards in packaging, he explained that there have been lots of improvements over the years, not just with NEPC but also with government agencies such as Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and NAFDAC, noting that these agencies have been hammering on standards.
Awolowo continued: ‘‘It is really improving; even local consumption is demanding a higher standard because the world is moving. We are bringing in a Japanese expert to explain to us why Japan is top niche and why a small island can be one of the biggest exporters in the world. They are coming to teach us on packaging, the rudiment of good packages.
“As we begin to emphasis more of Made-In-Nigeria products, it is important that it is made in Nigeria and exported to the world, it is not just Made-In-Nigeria for Nigeria alone. We need to develop the brand that will take the goods outside”.