First Bank Nigeria Ltd. said she would use her vast experience in supporting business enterprises, especially SMEs, to support the federal government’s efforts to diversify the economy’s revenue base.
FirstBank CEO Dr Adesola Adeduntan said this during the bank’s non-oil webinar series on Tuesday.
The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) reports that the webinar was titled; “Roadmap for Building Sustainable Non-Oil Exports in Nigeria: Harnessing AfCFTA and Agricultural Products. “
Adeduntan noted that the bank would use its expertise to lead discussions that would allow existing exporters to expand their export business and also encourage new entrants in the non-oil export industry.
According to him, the non-oil sector holds considerable value and opportunities for the country to improve job and wealth creation, foreign exchange earnings and growth of gross domestic product (GDP).
He noted that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) offers Nigeria an opportunity to reflect and appropriately position itself to become Africa’s export hub.
“This can be achieved given our population, our resources and our economic size.
“At FirstBank, we have been at the forefront of economic growth and we will use our reach and connection to orchestrate growth in the non-oil sector,” he said.
Adeduntan said that to achieve this goal, the bank established an export office to meet the needs of exporters, including designing export products and solutions to meet pre-export and post-export financing and services.
In addition, Dr Biodun Adedipe, chief consultant, B. Adedipe Associates Ltd., said the country needs to change its focus towards export-driven growth or an import-substitution economy.
Adedipe noted that the world Nigeria operated in before the COVID-19 pandemic was rapidly disappearing, stressing the need to pay more attention to the country’s non-oil export industry.
According to him, there is a need to build supporting infrastructure to help export companies, as China is deliberately doing to stimulate economic growth.
He added that ambitious targets should be set and tough measures implemented.
“If Nigeria does not act, other countries will act on us,” he said.
Commenting, Dr Ezra Yakusak, director general of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), said the council in 2016 developed the zero oil plan as a strategy to bolster foreign exchange in the non-oil sector.
Yakusak, represented by Mr. Folorunsho Akintunde, deputy director of NEPC, said that through the plan, an export policy for 22 major products that can generate $ 30 billion per year has been developed.
According to him, the council prepares and positions SMEs for the AfCFTA through various trainings, programs and incentives.
He said the NEPC was working closely with Afrexim Bank and ITC, to ensure Nigeria was ready for AfCFTA, especially on the Export Trading Company.
In addition, Controller Malanta Yusuf, Customs Zone Controller, Apapa, advised exporters to familiarize themselves with items allowed to be exported and those on prohibited lists.
He also advised them on a clear description of the goods and appropriate packaging to facilitate acceptance of the goods.
Also speaking, Mr. Eric Intong, Regional Director of Operations, Anglophone West Africa, African Import-Export Bank (Afreximbank), said the bank has developed various products, programs and initiatives to boost trade intra-African.
Intong said that to support the AfCFTA, the bank would spend $ 40 billion on intra-African trade and investment over the next five years.
He added that this was double the amount disbursed for the same goal over the past two years. (NOPE)