The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith Bank, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu has called for a concerted effort towards diversifying the country’s export base through the promotion of non-oil exports. He made the call during a Webinar themed “Prospects of Non-Oil Export During and Post COVID-19” organized by the bank on Wednesday, August 26, 2020.
According to him, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic which has impacted the demand for oil and, by extension, the price of crude oil in the international commodities market has further exposed Nigeria’s over-dependency on crude oil earnings and its susceptibility to oil-related shocks. He added that the events of the last couple of months have also highlighted the limited range of the country’s value-added products exported to foreign markets.
He noted further that boosting non-oil export is imperative in view of the opportunities that exist in the broader contexts of ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which seeks to create a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people with combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion and about $4 trillion in consumer and business spending.
Whilst commending the efforts of the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to deepen the non-oil export business in the country, Onyeagwu urged players in the non-oil export value-chain including exporters and financial institutions to play their part in the drive towards expanding the nation’s non-oil export base.
Delivering the keynote address, the Director of Trade & Exchange, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. (Mrs) Ozoemena Nnaji, who commended Zenith Bank for organizing the webinar at a time like this, observed that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for the country, as it has once again exposed the over-dependence of the Nigerian economy on one product. She therefore called for a deeper policy look at the non-oil sector to find ways of genuinely improving the quality and quantity of our non-oil export goods.
Also speaking at the Webinar, the Chief Executive/Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Olusegun Awolowo commended the efforts of Zenith bank in promoting non-oil export business in Nigeria, describing the bank as ‘the Export Trade Bank of Nigeria’. Speaking on the topic “Repositioning Non-oil export as a Leading Revenue Earner: Government Plans and Programmes”, Awolowo noted that the crash in oil prices following the COVID-19 pandemic and OPEC’s price war with Russia reinforced what everyone already knows – the mono-product economy of the country is not sustainable, calling for a buy-in into the Zero oil policy of NEPC.
Zenith Bank remains committed to the promotion of the non-oil export sector in Nigeria by identifying emerging opportunities which help in stimulating non-oil exports and developing 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 non-oil export business in Nigeria.