Stakeholders Identify Non-Oil Exports As Panacea For Economic Rejuvenation At Zenith Bank Int’l Trade Seminar
Stakeholders have unanimously called for support of Nigeria’s non-oil export sector at the seventh annual edition of the Zenith Bank International Trade Seminar with the theme: “Unlocking Opportunities in Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Business,” which was held yesterday in Lagos as well as virtually.
In his goodwill message presentation, the Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Jim Ovia called for a concerted effort towards diversifying Nigeria’s export base through the promotion of non-oil exports.
Highlighting the importance of non-oil export to the nation’s economy, Ovia pointed out that Nigeria exported cocoa and several other non-oil products for years before oil was discovered.
He cited the example of the 25-storey Cocoa House in Ibadan, which was built with proceeds from cocoa exports. He pointed out that many countries in the world, such as Japan and China have been successful because they are doing a great deal of innovation, production and manufacturing of goods and services.
According to him, Nigeria should also look at promoting the nation’s non-oil export sector through technology to create technological giants like Apple, Tesla, and Google.
“And we already have technology companies in this mould in Nigeria, such as Flutterwave, which has a valuation of $3 billion, making it more valuable than some banks in Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking further on the enormous potential in Nigeria’s non-oil sector, Ovia highlighted the phenomenal growth of Nigeria’s emerging financial technology (Fintech) companies such as Flutherwave, OPay, Interswitch, Kuda and Paystack, with market valuations of $3 billion, $2 billion, $1 billion, $500 million, $200 million, respectively. According to him, this underscores the enormous opportunity in the Fintech space.
He also noted that the most capitalised companies in the world, such as Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Tesla, Visa, etc., are not oil companies but are in the technological innovation space.
In his welcome address, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, said the annual Zenith Bank Trade Seminar has served as a veritable platform to deepen the conversation on promoting non-oil export in Nigeria, bringing together non-oil export practitioners and relevant government agencies to interact and explore the opportunities and proffer solutions to the challenges of non-oil export in the country.
He pointed out that the CBN has undertaken several initiatives to promote the non-oil export sector because of its firm belief that the non-oil export sector holds enormous potential to contribute to employment generation, wealth creation and economic growth of the country.
In his keynote address, the President/Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said, “Nigeria’s non-oil export is quite low compared to other African top oil producers. This exposes the economy to oil price/production risks.
There is much room for growth, and the CBN is helping drive this through the RT200 programme.”
According to him, the CBN RT200 FX programme, which aims to achieve $200 billion in foreign exchange earnings from non-oil proceeds over the next three to five years, has very laudable objectives, including enhancing foreign exchange inflow, diversifying the source of FX inflow, increasing the level of contribution from non-oil export, and ensuring stability and sustainability of FX flows.
In his Goodwill Message, the Secretary General, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, enumerated the progress and achievements of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the efforts to improve intra-Africa trade.
Also, in his goodwill message, President/Chairman of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Prof. Benedict Oramah, highlighted the efforts of Afreximbank to enhance intra-Africa trade through the implementation of the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS).
According to him, the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System would make it easy and seamless for Africans to trade amongst themselves and receive payment for goods and services in their local currencies, eliminating currency conversion challenges.
Zenith Bank remains committed to promoting the non-oil export sector in Nigeria by identifying emerging opportunities which help stimulate non-oil exports and develop robust financial products and incentives for operators in the sector.
The bank launched the non-oil export seminar in 2017 as an initiative to deepen the discourse on promoting the non-oil export business in Nigeria.