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NEPC harps on why non-oil export is way to go

By Gbenga Akinfenwa
03 September 2017   |   3:07 am
In the last two years, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, has been in the forefront of increasing the country’s earnings on non-oil export.

Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Olusegun Awolowo

In the last two years, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, has been in the forefront of increasing the country’s earnings on non-oil export.

Perhaps, this necessitated the commission’s resolve to announce in 2016 of its plan to create 1.5 million jobs.At a stakeholders’ workshop in Lagos, Director-General, NEPC, Mr. Segun Awolowo, explained that the NDEX programme had been part of the council’s efforts to rebrand the image of Nigeria, outside its shores, thereby generating more revenue for the nation.

At the workshop, Awolowo who was represented by the South West Regional Head of the council, Mr. Olusegun Faleke the commission’s emphasis on key areas of Nigerian Heritage City (NHC), The Nigerian Cuisine beyond Borders (NCBB) and the Diaspora Export of Non-Oil Products (DENOP).

On how it planned to actualize this, he said: “The NHC seeks to create a formalized hub where Nigerian products and services would be displayed just like we have back home in Nigeria. This would be established in countries where there is a large concentration of Nigerians like the United States and London, and this would be akin to the China towns that we have today.

“The NCBB, which entails the cuisine, would also rebrand the Nigerian foods from the packaging and cooking to meet up with international standards and world cuisine brands we know today.

“All these sub-programmes under this NDEX would create not less than 1.5 million jobs for Nigerians both within and outside the country, because it will definitely increase non-oil exports.”

The programme obviously brought about a high value addition to non-oil products and services in the country at a time when the nation needs to revive its manufacturing, agricultural and industrial sectors.

So far, in the last two years, the NEPC has achieved some feats, according to Faleke, which has helped in divesting the nation’s economy.As part of its scorecard, the NEPC has involved women in the export development as it has connected one million women entrepreneurs worldwide.

The commission, within this period, has collaborated with the International Trade Centre (ITC) in the effort to maximize inherent benefits of gender engagements made specific programmes to bring women more fully into the country’s economic mainstream.

With the support of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, NEPC and ITC launched the ‘SheTrades’ initiative during Women in Export Stakeholders Forum and Exhibition in Abuja on July 13, 2016.

The ITC’s “SheTrades” initiative has provided a platform where Nigerian women-owned businesses will be established since ongoing efforts are catalyzed to empower women to drive trade-led development.

In 2015 the United Nations adopted the Global Goals on Sustainable Development with the ambitious agenda to eliminate extreme poverty and achieve gender equality in education and work by 2030. Either goal cannot be attained without the other and neither can happen without Africa’s biggest economy Nigeria. With the SheTrade initiative, ITC and the NEPC are working together to empower women to trade for a better future – for Nigeria, for Africa, and for the world.

Also in building capacity for exports to the United States the Council established the Human Capital Development Centre (HCDC) at Apapa, Lagos, to assist Nigerian entrepreneurs take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) benefits by meeting the requisite standards for export to the US market.

Only recently, Faleke explained, the Council under the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) initiative entered into a partnership with Style House with the aim to provide skilled manpower for the apparel sector in order to improve the technical edge in manufacturing according to requisite international standards.

Since it was established, the HCDC has graduated over 500 trainees, while over 150 additional trainees graduated on apparel training at the Centre in the last two years – with approximately 50 presently on training.

Also, the Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Applied Management Research Team 10 (AMR T10) of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to conduct a study on how to increase Nigerian exports, with the intention to also leverage the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)

The project identified four commodities from the ‘Zero Oil Plan’ that were suited for the U.S.A market. These are Cocoa, Palm Oil, Cotton/Yarn and Hibiscus.

In projecting the Nigerian fashion industry to the world, the Council facilitated the participation of some Nigerian designers at the Buyers Fairs in Las Vegas, USA.

The goal was to make Nigeria a sourcing destination of repute for high-end and contemporary apparels and accessories. Nigerian exhibitors, participated in the fair include: Belois Couture, Revamp, Electic Chique, Grey Projects, Lanre Da Silva and Morin ‘O Leatherworks.

Arising from Nigeria’s participation, Electic Chique now has retail outlets in the US, Morin ‘O Leatherworks is running an inventory storage platform for her products at Amazon while Belois Couture generated serious foreign interest for the company’s goods.

In the transport sector, Faleke said council facilitated for Innoson Motors export of 400 vehicles to Mali following the company’s readiness to sign Memorandum of Understanding with Taxi Plus and VIP – two major transport companies based in Mali, for use in the expansion of transport business in that country.

The feat was achieved as part of the outcome of the “Made-in-Nigeria Products Exhibition” held in Bamako in 2016. The Exhibition was facilitated by NEPC in collaboration with Ginco Group, a Nigerian firm based in Mali to showcase Nigeria’s exportable products.

In the agricultural sector, Council facilitated a credit facility for Foodpro Limited, an Ilorin based Cashew manufacturing company to procure cutting-edge equipment and machines for Cashew processing with the aim of making the product competitive in the international market.

Earlier in 2016, the NEPC spearheaded the participation of Nigerian Cashew Processors to World Cashew Convention in Singapore to expose stakeholders to new technologies, which would result in increased value addition, inclusive growth and job creation.

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