By Nkliruka Nnorom
The Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has said that the federal government through the Council, is working on some short and medium term priorities and initiatives that would ease the export processes in Nigeria enable the country to reap the full benefit of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
As part of the priorities, the Council said it is working with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to promote the use of alternative ports around the country, as well as working on construction of domestic export warehouses and common facility process centres for many of the export commodities.
Olusegun Awolowo, CEO, NEPC, stated these yesterday at a webinar with a theme “AfCFTA: Revamping Nigeria’s Infrastructure for Global Trade”, organised by Arbiterz Media Limited,saying that most of the projects and initiatives would be completed and ready for take-off in the next six months.
He stated that the Council has identified 22 priority products for export as part of its zero oil plan to boost the country’s foreign exchange (forex) earning capacity.
He said: “We are working on domestic export warehouse/aggregation centres to reduce the cost of doing business by MSMEs exporting companies. We are looking at Tincan and Apapa Ports so that we can decongest those areas.
“We are also working on common facility process centres for many of our commodities including shea butter, cashew among others in order to reduce the cost of fashion, cosmetics and agro-products to mention a few.
“We are working with NPA on trying to get other ports ready and decongest the Lagos ports. Last month, we did about 7,000 tons of cocoa from Calabar Port, which has never been done before.”
Yewande Sadiku, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), speaking, said: “What is more important is the internal work that Nigeria needs to do with ensuring that the private sector fully understands the implications of AfCFTA and that the government pro-actively empowers the Nigerian private sector to leverage Nigeria’s clear competitive advantage for Nigeria’s benefit.”
Hope Yongo, who represented the MD/CEO, Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), said that NEXIM is promoting the regional sealink project under a SPV-PPP framework, adding that the project would, hopefully, commence by fourth quarter (Q4) 2021 to enhance Nigeria’s trade connectivity under AfCFTA.