Managing director and chief executive of the Nigerian Export- Import Bank (NEXIM), Mr Abba Bello yesterday in Akure, Ondo State, announced that the bank and its continental counterpart, African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM) have earmarked the sum of $10 million as project preparation fund (PPF) aimed at supporting pre-operational phase of project cycles.
The objective of this, according to Bello, is to increase the pipeline of bankable projects, towards addressing the problem of poor access to funds particularly amongst Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
At the event themed; ‘Maximising Export Potentials in the South-west Region for Economic Growth’, he expressed hope that SMEs present would take advantage of the products to increase their access to funds and grow their businesses.
The NEXIM boss also stated that it has launched the State Export Development Fund. Under this programme, the Bank earmarked a minimum of N1billion for every state of the federation to be disbursed to targeted export-oriented projects in the SME sector, towards crowding in investment and promoting regional industrialisation and economic development.
This fund is also expected to support the various states to benefit from the opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to which Nigeria is a signatory.
His words: “As you may all be aware, the AfCFTA, which commenced in January 2021 comes with enormous benefits, including a borderless market of about 1.2billion people, with a combined GDP of about $3.4trillion. It therefore offers our SMEs, particularly those engaged in cross-border trade, the opportunity to increase their sales under a more liberal market condition.
“This scheme also seeks to corporatize and on-board our informal exporters into the formal sector, and through this capture the huge volume of informal trade which has been estimated at about four times the value of recorded trade.
“As the nation’s Export Development Bank, the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), is in the vanguard of promoting economic diversification, towards increased jobs creation and foreign exchange earnings for the country. In this regard, and in line with the Zero Oil Plan of the federal government, we seeks to develop at least one exportable commodity in every state of the federation.”
The Ondo State governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu and his deputy, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, representatives of the Ekiti and Ogun State governors took their turns to reel out their achievements and thanked NEXIM Bank for the support their stakeholders have been receiving.
The executive director, Business Development, Hon Stella Okotete, thanked the governors and their representatives and all the stakeholders that attended and urged them to embrace the many products of the Bank aimed at providing funds for bankable projects and in support for the diversification agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.