NEPC’s Two-Day Conference Themed: Export For Survival

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I thank the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, for the kind invitation to this extremely important and timely conference and the board and management of NEPC for the foresight to organize this event and the effort you have made to put it together. I bring you greetings from President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


To all the stakeholders here present, we see and salute your contributions to our ongoing drive to urgently and extensively unlock the full potential of our country’s non-export economy.


The theme, Export for Survival carries an urgency that perfectly frames the challenges we will increasingly face if we do not accelerate the diversification of the Nigerian economy. We understand and fully appreciate the extensive impact this will have on our people. And so, we must move quickly and assuredly.


Our considered response so far has been carried out in the light of first, the dynamism of the Nigerian people and our multi-sectoral potential for innovation and productivity at scale.


Secondly, the responsibility of the government, at all levels, in leading the charge to unlock this potential, and this involves not just the Federal Government, but the States also.


We are on our way with respect to all of our commitments. The challenges facing our non-oil export economy should be viewed in the trajectory of the last eight years.


In 2021 Nigeria’s non-oil revenue stood at about N1.15 trillion, representing a growth of 4.73% in the fourth quarter, and a contribution of about 92.51% to the nation’s overall GDP.


In 2019, the year preceding the Covid-19 pandemic, non-oil revenue represented 92.68% of our total GDP. The growth following that intervening year indicates the growing resilience of our non-oil export economy and our decreasing susceptibility to shocks in the global oil market.


Beyond these numbers are human stories of bold visions and grit, persistent innovation and the unflagging spirit of Nigerians across the country, who are building model companies and businesses, hands deep in the plow. Some of our best stories are in the tech sector. In the last seven years, 6 tech companies have become Unicorns, companies valued at over a billion dollars each, and all this between two recessions.


One of the reasons you’d that the tech sector is growing so well is because of the right hand of the regulatory sector upon it. We must seek to achieve a situation where regulators see themselves as facilitators of business as opposed to policemen. This has been the focus of a lot of the work done by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, especially with the MSME Clinics.


So, our job as government is to assiduously enable businesses with regulatory policies, procedures and processes that are continuously optimized for greater efficiency and ease the flow of business across sectors. This must be coupled, urgently, with the supporting infrastructure needed to aid production, distribution, and export. Again, in this sector, we are on our way.


The core mandate of our Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has recently found expression in the National Action Plan (NAP 7.0) on the Ease of Doing Business, which is programmed to consolidate on the removal of regulatory constraints around agro-exports and drive the electronic filing of taxes and publication of insolvency regulations pursuant to the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020.


The NAP 7.0 agro-export plan prioritizes port and trade facilitation reforms to minimize cross-border trade and transport logistics constraints for Nigerian companies with AfCFTA export compliance.


These interventions are to be complemented by improved automation, including the National Single Window, which is in line with the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organization.


The plan for reduction of cargo clearance time has begun with the facilitation through the installation of cargo scanners, supported by the Port Community Portal, which has been designed to foster inter-agency collaboration.


We have also extended the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail to the Apapa ports, and this is coming on stream alongside the ongoing construction of the Apapa-Ojota access way in Lagos, as well as the feeder roads around the ports.


We have continued to meet the challenges facing us head-on, and Federal Government is always looking for ways to fund (especially industry, trade and investment) our exports, and this is a commitment we have taken seriously.


Our commitment to the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria, which we launched in 2021 with an initial seed capital of N1 trillion, as an urgent response to our yawning $300 billion infrastructural deficit, is still unwavering.


This follows an N8.9 trillion investment on infrastructure in the last five years, covering rail, roads, power and broadband connectivity, all of which were sustained and accelerated despite the interruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic.


But the effort of government must succeed within deliberate collaborative frameworks that allow for seamless cooperation between private and public sector operators, government agencies, States, and regions. This is why we are as optimistic about the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), which we have thrown our full weight behind.


We are determined to enhance the competitiveness of our businesses within what is poised to become one of the largest regional single markets in the world.


This is why our Export Development Fund, under the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, has committed N50billion to help position export-oriented Nigerian businesses to play competitively within this growing regional market by providing access to capacity building programmes, as well as business grants. I think that the fund is innovative in its implementation, the transparency of implementation is one for which the NEPC must be commended.

Our commitment to deepening our production and export capacity in the coming months and years is evidenced by the National Development Plan 2021 – 2025.


The strategic objectives of the National Development Plan show clearly where we are headed in terms of non-oil revenue and this includes establishing a strong foundation for a diversified economy, investing in critical infrastructure, enabling human capital development and improving governance and strengthening security, all of which will certainly contribute to achieving our national development aspirations.


The cornerstone of the thinking around the plan is productivity. We have to focus all of our attention on being productive; local investment is perhaps even more important than foreign investment.


Once we enable the environment for local investment, once we show that our sole focus would be on productivity, with also the guiding principles for our regulatory agencies, it is the productivity that will bring the jobs, income, growth and respect. The focus of the plan is productivity and that will be the watchword of our economy as we go forward.


We are determined to accelerate our efforts through holistic stakeholder input and this is why this conference is of immense value. The robust multi-sectoral representation underlies your well-considered appraisal of the wide spectrum of our no-oil sector value chain. And we trust that your deliberations and vigorous exchange of ideas will yield practical and far-reaching recommendations, which we believe will further reinvigorate the non-oil sector and the economy at large.


We hope that in the coming months and years, all of the efforts which have been put into developing the non-oil sector will begin to yield tangible results, and all of our partners, especially the private sector will see the plans as being genuine and will remain more committed to developing the Nigerian economy.


Once again, let me commend the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment for their visionary leadership, they have done so well and I expect them to do much more.


Thank you.