The managing director of the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), Mr. Abba Bello, has disclosed that Nigeria loses up to $190billion annually to exportation of raw cocoa.
Bello said Nigeria ought to make $200billion annually if the country has been exporting processed cocoa.
The NEXIM boss made the disclosure in Akure, the Ondo State capital, at the South-West enlightenment and engagement forum for governors and exporters in the zone.
While regretting that the country has relied on oil as its major foreign exchange earner despite having about 44 commodities that are produced locally, Bello said there was the need to develop the nation’s processing capacity to ensure that Nigeria benefits from the huge market for cocoa products, estimated at about $200bn annually as against the current practice of exporting raw cocoa beans, whose global value is estimated at $10bn only.
According to him, the forum was conceived to sensitise policy makers, investors, exporters, and potentials exporters to the need for increased focus on the non-oil export sector.
He said, “It is rather a paradox that despite our huge human and natural resource endowments, Nigeria remains a mono-product economy, with the crude oil sector contributing about 70% of government revenue and about 90% of export earnings.
“Too often, the country has been confronted with challenges arising from the downturn in the global oil market, manifesting in sharp drop in fiscal revenues, rapid depreciation of the Naira, unfavourable balance of payment position and high inflation amongst others, which ultimately leads to collapse of industries, high unemployment and increased poverty, as is currently being witnessed.
“The point of emphasis is that our country is so blessed, and our economy need not be tied to the vagaries of one commodity, which contributes less than 10% of our Gross Domestic Product.
“Nigeria remains a major agrarian economy and one of the world’s highest producers of cash crops like Cocoa, Shea, Cashew, Cassava, Ginger and Soyabean, to mention a few. Nigeria has over 44 solid minerals in commercial quantities, found all over the country, largely unexploited.
“Our services sector has also grown over the years, contributing over 50% of our Gross Domestic Product, with sub-sectors like the creative economy, professional services and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT), now featuring prominently,” he said.
The executive director, NEXIM Business Development, Mrs. Stella Okotete, said the bank came to Ondo State because of the export potentials available in the state.
She said the bank was ready to partner with the South-West state governments to develop the export capacities in the region.
In his remark, the Ondo state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, said the governors in the zone have registered a company that would help develop the export potentials in the South-West zone.
Akeredolu informed that the state was always ready to partner any organisation that will assist in projecting the state’s economy.