The Executive Director of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and champion for zero-oil export in Nigeria, Mr Olusegun Awolowo expounded on Nigeria’s Zero-oil export policy on Monday, 22 February, 2020 alongside other stakeholders at an event hosted in Lagos by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s flagship platform, EMPRETEC.
The event themed: Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development: A Review of the Entrepreneurship Policy Framework, was organised as part of EMPRETEC’s mandate to train and enable entrepreneurs in developing countries with the potential to succeed.
Mr Awolowo highlighted 22 products under 3 categories – cocoa, cashew and sesame that the NEPC has identified to drive its Zero Oil Policy. Against this backdrop, the Executive Director and champion for zero-oil export in Nigeria reinforced the focus of NEPC on processed goods than raw materials and its interest in collaborating with small and medium scale businesses through the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).
On the impact of the AfCFTA on the promotion of Nigerian businesses, Mr Awolowo recalled that “during the discussion phase, African entrepreneurs were the most optimistic about the agreement which is key for export diversification. With the AfCFTA in motion, small and medium scale businesses all around the continent can depend on Nigeria to provide goods and services”.
According to him, “entrepreneurs are vital for economic viability, but the true instrumentality of entrepreneurship is nestled in effective training; because if we do not train our entrepreneurs we cannot generate significant value for money. Export-related training is integral to the work at NEPC. Through local and international partnerships, including the Women in Export partnership with the International Trade Centre (ITC), and quality infrastructure programmes in collaboration with the United Nations Development Organisation (UNIDO), the Council has trained thousands of entrepreneurs across diverse aspects of the value chain and has connected them to the global market.”
Co-panellists at the event, include Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, Chief Executive Officer at the Tony Elumelu Foundation; Yewande Sadiku, Executive Director of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission; Charles Anyawu, Head, SMEs, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund. The rich dialogue was expanded to include an interactive session with attendees. Chief Alaba Lawson (Iyalode of Egbaland) commended the Council and Mr Awolowo for the NEPC’s multi-layered approach in bolstering non-oil export businesses, and especially for creating more opportunities for women-owned businesses under their Women in Export division.
On the NEPC’s outlook for the near future, Mr Awolowo assured attendees that the NEPC recognises the potential of export services – “the people and not just the goods, and we at the Council are currently working with the Commonwealth project, Central Bank of Nigeria and Bank of Industry to create a comprehensive framework where creative talents will be identified, trained and provided requisite opportunities to showcase their creativity to the global stage”