Bank earmarks N100m for NEPC ‘zero to export’ trainees •As Nigeria-Ghana partner to foster cross-border trade

James Tiigah CEO of Ghana Export Promotion Authority (left), with Mr Olusegun Awolowo, Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, during a recent cross-border collaborative meeting in Ghana to improve Intra-African trade.

IN a bid to support diversification of the Nigerian economy through export, Providus Bank has allocated N100 million grant to 38 trainees in Batch 3 of the Zero to Export Capacity Building Programme organized by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC).

Disclosing this on Thursday in Abuja, the Executive Director of the newly lunched Commercial Bank, the Providus Bank, Kingsley Aigbokhaevbo informed the participants that the bank will reserve N100m to support the Zero to Export initiative, and advised the trainees to be part of cooperatives in order to access the funds.

Addressing the passing out trainees, the Executive Director of NEPC, Mr. Segun Awolowo said the Zero to Export Programme has been part of the Council’s efforts to reposition the non –oil sector, re-write the narrative of the Council through job creation and inclusive growth, thereby making it a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria.

He assured that the Council will continue to create opportunities for Nigerians to imbibe the culture of exportation through capacity building training as the Council celebrates the graduation of 38 trainees in Batch 3 of Zero to Export Capacity Building Programme.

“There is no doubt that the essence of our gathering today underscores the crucial role that non-oil export sector is expected to play in the present administration’s effort at diversifying the Nigerian economy away from over reliance on oil as its mainstay, especially now that the continuous fall in price of oil has thrown the World economy in recession”

Mr. Awolowo noted that, recent development on global commodities market have triggered a wakeup call on the need for Nigeria to accelerate the diversification of its economy and move away from over dependence on oil as the country’s main source of revenue.

He assured the graduates that “NEPC will continue to encourage Nigerians to take advantage of the diversification process of the Federal Government through the promotion of non-oil export activities”.

The Zero to Export initiative is one of the flagship programmes of the Council that focuses on creating new generation of Nigerian exporters through practical and theoretical training of business executives, bankers, civil servants, unemployed graduates and even retired citizens with interest in export business.  The Programme is anchored on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement led by the consultant, Mr. Kola Awen of XPT logistics International Limited, with support from Fidelity Bank.

So far, the programme has trained and graduated over a hundred participants from the Lagos and Abuja centres. Most of the trainees have formed registered cooperatives and are already exporting. The three graduates have registered the Integrated Exporters Cooperatives Society Limited.

It is hoped that the programme would bring about a high level addition to non-oil products and services in the country at a time when the nation needs to revive its manufacturing, agricultural and industrial sectors.

Meanwhile, trade promotion agencies from Ghana and Nigeria have agreed to put in place measures that will facilitate cross-border trade, with the view to improve both countries’ economy.

This was disclosed by the Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, who led a delegation of officials including Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) representatives on a cross-border collaborative visit to the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) on Thursday.

The delegation was received by James Tiigah, the CEO of GEPA andGeorge Blankson Commissioner-General of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

The counterpart agencies underlined the difficulty in formal inter-African trade, citing lack of operational synergy, duplication of functions by enforcement Agencies as major factors affecting inter-African trade. Other noted inhibitions include numerous check-points, poor transport systems, road infrastructure and non-functionality of ECOWAS Trade Scheme.

Awolowo noted that “all Africa needs is in Africa but without proper integration between nations States enormous trade benefits are lost. As Number 1 formal trade partner in the West African region Nigeria has much to gain from and give back to Ghana.”

For instance, he said as top three producers of cocoa Nigeria, Ghana and Togo have a lot in common to share in harnessing the product to become one of the major foreign exchange earners in the world.

While welcoming the idea of collaboration among both countries, Tiigah acknowledged that non-oil exports alone make up about 12 per cent of Ghana’s GDP amounting to $2.5bn a year.