Non-oil ex­ports: How Nige­ri­ans in Di­as­pora can help re­build econ­omy

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - By Fran­cis Arinze Iloani

The Fed­eral Govern­ment aims to re­place oil as the ma­jor na­tional ex­change earner by grow­ing non-oil ex­ports to $30 bil­lion in the next 10 years and even­tu­ally at­tain 20 per cent of nonoil ex­ports to GDP or ap­prox­i­mately $100 bil­lion an­nu­ally based on its Zero Oil Plan.

Data sourced from the Nige­rian Ex­port Pro­mo­tion Coun­cil (NEPC) showed that Nigeria’s oil rev­enue has been dip­ping in the last few years, drop­ping from $2.7 bil­lion in 2014 to $1.6 bil­lion in 2015. Nigeria even­tu­ally sank into re­ces­sion in 2016 and there are mixed pro­jec­tions on whether or not the coun­try can exit the eco­nomic melt­down this year.

To bridge the rev­enue gap from plum­met­ing oil in­comes, the Fed­eral Govern­ment is now fo­cus­ing more on non-oil ex­ports as oil ex­port is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing unattrac­tive for the Nige­rian econ­omy. The NEPC has an­nounced a plan to lever­age on the 15 mil­lion Nige­ri­ans liv­ing in coun­tries where the Fed­eral Govern­ment has diplo­matic mis­sions to grow non-oil ex­ports.

World Bank’s data show that Nige­ri­ans liv­ing abroad re­mit­ted about $20.77 bil­lion in 2015 and NEPC be­lieves th­ese Nige­ri­ans in Di­as­pora can be lever­aged upon to do more good to the econ­omy.

The Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of NEPC, Mr. Oluse­gun Awolowo, said many Nige­ri­ans liv­ing abroad have ex­celled in their var­i­ous fields and pro­fes­sions as med­i­cal doc­tors, en­gi­neers, lawyers, econ­o­mists, en­trepreneurs, sci­en­tists, artists, mu­si­cians, aca­demi­cians and so on.

“The Fed­eral Govern­ment has recog­nised Di­as­pora Nige­ri­ans as a huge na­tional as­set which could and should be har­nessed for na­tional de­vel­op­ment, i.e. the pro­mo­tion of non-oil ex­ports and in­vest­ment,” he said.

To lever­age on Nige­ri­ans in Di­as­pora to grow the lo­cal econ­omy, the NEPC de­vel­oped the Nigeria Di­as­pora Ex­port Programme (NDEX).

The programme is hinged on three com­po­nents: Nigeria Her­itage City (NHC), Nigeria Cui­sine be­yond Borders (NCBB) and Di­as­pora Ex­port of Non-Oil Prod­ucts (DENOP). The NHC is de­signed to have a phys­i­cal space that will serve as one stop hub for Nige­ri­ans in Di­as­pora, as well as for­eign­ers who want to en­joy and sam­ple au­then­tic Nige­rian ex­pe­ri­ence.

The project de­scrip­tion ob­tained from the NEPC in­di­cated that the NHC would pro­vide a plat­form for har­ness­ing the energy gen­er­ated by the pres­ence of large num­bers of Nige­ri­ans res­i­dent out­side their home coun­try as an as­set for de­vel­op­ment.

The project is based on the premise that the im­port de­mand pull ex­erted by Nige­ri­ans in Di­as­pora in the form of their con­tin­ued con­sump­tion of eth­nic foods, tex­tiles and gar­ments, and other in­dige­nous prod­ucts, which rep­re­sent non-oil ex­ports from Nigeria, is a sig­nif­i­cant busi­ness which can be or­gan­ised bet­ter and pro­moted vig­or­ously.

The Her­itage City is en­vi­sioned to host ware­houses, Nige­rian food­stuffs mar­ket, whole­sale and re­tail shops for var­i­ous Nige­rian prod­ucts, arts and crafts gal­leries, restau­rants, solid min­er­als mar­ket, events cen­tres, com­mod­ity ex­changes, banks and fi­nan­cial ser­vices, the­atres, record­ing and train­ing stu­dios for Nol­ly­wood and other cre­ative artists.

The sec­ond com­po­nent of the NDEX, which is Nige­rian Cui­sine Be­yond Borders, aims to set up world class and uni­fied stan­dards for Nige­rian cui­sine across the world. The cui­sine is ex­pected to taste alike in ac­cred­ited restau­rants across the globe.

“The programme is tar­geted at restau­rants within and out­side Nigeria to mar­ket their cook­ing art as ser­vices ex­port and pro­mote tourism,” Awolowo said.

The NEPC plans to of­fer in­cen­tives and as­sis­tance to new and ex­ist­ing restau­rants that will be pro­mot­ing the menu and cui­sine so as to com­pete with other branded restau­rants such as Chi­nese In­dian, Malaysian and Ethiopian restau­rants that are well known in the global mar­ket.

The third com­po­nent of the NDEX, which is Di­as­pora Ex­port of Non-Oil Prod­ucts, is de­signed to en­cour­age Di­as­pora Nige­ri­ans to par­tic­i­pate in deep­en­ing the ex­port value chain es­pe­cially in tex­tiles, solid min­er­als, man­u­fac­tured goods and agri­cul­ture through their in­volve­ment.

Un­der this programme, the Fed­eral Govern­ment plans to as­sist in­ter­ested Di­as­pora SMEs with tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance to build ca­pac­ity for ex­port through the Ex­port De­vel­op­ment Fund (EDF) win­dow.

To achieve the NDEX, the Fed­eral Govern­ment in­tends to im­ple­ment it through Pub­lic Pri­vate Part­ner­ship (PPP), with Di­as­pora Nige­ri­ans fully par­tic­i­pat­ing.

For in­stance, the Di­as­pora Nige­ri­ans are ex­pected to fully par­tic­i­pate in the Her­itage City projects in their host coun­tries, ei­ther by run­ning their busi­nesses from there or by pa­tro­n­is­ing the city.

Speak­ing on this pro­jec­tive, the Ge­or­gia State Di­rec­tor of the Nigeria Ini­tia­tive for Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment (NIED), Dr. Queen Bless­ing Itua, said Nige­ri­ans in Di­as­pora are will­ing to key into the NDEX ini­tia­tive.

Dr. Itua said the NIED would col­lab­o­rate with the Fed­eral Govern­ment to drive the project in the United States and pos­si­bly in other parts of the world.

NEPC ES Oluse­gun Awolowo

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