Members of the Organised Private Sector, on Monday, intensified calls for the formulation of policies to articulate a definite roadmap for non-oil export and non-traditional tradable goods and services.
They said the panacea for employment generation, foreign exchange earnings and investments in non-oil exports, particularly in the agricultural sector, must be backed by relevant laws and regulations.
Speaking at the second edition of the Nigeria Employers summit themed, ‘Trade and non-oil export: Changing the narrative for rapid national development’, in Abuja, the OPS explained that with the current fiscal challenges, the government needed to diversify its revenue base to increase economic growth, so that trade and non-oil exports would boost its foreign exchange reserves.
The Director-General of the African Development Bank’s Nigeria Country Department, Lamin Barrow, stated that Nigeria’s exports of goods and services as a percentage of GDP, at 10.7 per cent, was the lowest among its middle-income peers in Africa, compared to 31.2 per cent for South Africa, 44 per cent for Mauritius, 44.6 per cent for Botswana while Tunisia and Angola stood at 42.1 per cent and 44.3 per cent respectively.
He noted that while Nigeria’s economy was one of the most diversified in Africa, the oil sector accounted for 75 per cent of export revenues, and 50 per cent of all government revenue.
In his welcome address, the Director-General, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, Adewale Oyerinde, noted that NECA and its partners were aiming at expanding the employment net in Nigeria by deepening economic activities in the area of non-oil trade export.
According to him, the summit was organised to boost forex and to address declining oil export revenues.
He also stated that because of the lack of job opportunities, Nigerians were migrating in large numbers, and the overall gain was the creation of job opportunities in the country and its development.
He said, “We put this summit together because we know there is no way to increase forex without investing in the non-oil export. So, this summit offers a unique opportunity for us to expand the employment net but we need policies to support this.
Speaking also at the event, The President of the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria, Otunba Francis Meshioye, expressed hope that the summit would launch immediate measures that would shape and give attention to non-oil exports, increasing foreign earnings, spurring investment, creating jobs, and reducing the country’s debt burden.
On his part, the Executive Director, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Ezra Yakusak, reiterated the government’s commitment to support as it was one of the ways to guarantee the country’s survival.