In line with the resolve by the Federal Government to diversify the economy, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has set a long-term revenue target of $100 billion for the country through non-oil exports. The Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of NEPC, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo said that the new plan aims at saving the country from over-reliance on oil and shore up more fund to the government coffers despite dwindling revenue caused by the fall in global price of crude in the international market.
In a paper entitled: “The zero oil plan and an export revolution,” Awolowo said the council was on a mission to diversify the country’s economy in line with the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to change the nation’s economic fortune for the better.
He said that Nigeria imports thousands of goods worth over $50 billion a year which are paid for mainly with crude oil proceeds. “Our fears have now materialised; in the last two years, crude oil prices have fallen by around 60 per cent and Nigeria’s earnings have likewise fallen by at least $35 billion, inevitably leaving a financial hole in the economy. The pressing question now is how do we fill this funding gap? The answer is simple: Nigeria must quickly find an alternative to oil revenue. If Nigeria broadens and grows its export basket, a positive chain reaction ricochets throughout the economy,” Awolowo said.
He added: “the logic follows that when you grow exports, national output such as agriculture, industry and solid minerals will also grow. Local businesses will grow and supporting infrastructure will also expand. Employment creation and investments will follow suit. The overall macro impacts result in growing foreign reserves and a more resilient economy.”
Awolowo explained that in implementing the plan, hundreds of thousands of jobs would be created every year from numerous activities of non-oil economy. He highlighted how NEPC intended to make the plan work. “The zero oil plan has identified 21 priority countries as markets for Nigerian products, and 11 strategic export products with high financial value to replace oil. These include petrochemicals, palm oil, cocoa, soybeans and rubber. To achieve this, Nigeria must scale up domestic production to levels unprecedented and create competitive channels to move cargo and get goods into foreign markets,” he said.
By Pita Ochai