NON-OIL EXPORTS KEY TO NIGERIA’S ECONOMIC REJUVENATION, SAYSTAKEHOLDERS AT ZENITH BANK INTERNATIONAL TRADE

CAPTION R – L : Group Managing Director/CEO, Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu; Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele; President & Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia; former Chief Executive/Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Olusegun Awolowo; and Managing Director/CEO, Bank of Industry, Mr. Olukayode Pitan at the 2022 Zenith Bank International Trade Seminar held at the Civic Centre Lagos, yesterday.

SEMINARStakeholders unanimously called for support of Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Sector at the 7thAnnual Edition of the Zenith Bank International Trade Seminar themed “UnlockingOpportunities in Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Business”, which was held on Wednesday, July20, 2022, at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos and virtually.In his Goodwill Message Presentation, the Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr.Jim Ovia, CON, called for a concerted effort towards diversifying Nigeria’s export basethrough the promotion of non-oil exports. Highlighting the importance of non-oil export to thenation’s economy, Ovia pointed out that Nigeria exported cocoa and several other non-oilproducts for years before oil was discovered. He cited the example of the 25-storey CocoaHouse in Ibadan, which was built with proceeds from cocoa exports. He pointed out thatmany countries in the world, such as Japan and China been successful because they aredoing a great deal of innovation, production and manufacturing of goods and services.According to him, we should also look at promoting the nation’s non-oil export sectorthrough technology to create technological giants like Apple, Tesla, and Google. And wealready have technology companies in this mould in Nigeria, such as Flutterwave, whichhas a valuation of $3 billion, making it more valuable than some banks in Nigeria. Speakingfurther on the enormous potential in Nigeria’s non-oil sector, Ovia highlighted thephenomenal growth of Nigeria’s emerging financial technology (Fintech) companies such asFlutherwave, OPay, Interswitch, Kuda and Paystack, with market valuations of $3 billion, $2billion, $1 billion, $500 million, $200 million, respectively. According to him, this underscoresthe enormous opportunity in the Fintech space. He also noted that the most capitalizedcompanies 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. EbenezerOnyeagwu, said that the annual Zenith Bank Trade Seminar has served as a veritableplatform to deepen the conversation on promoting non-oil export in Nigeria, bringingtogether non-oil export practitioners and relevant government agencies to interact andexplore the opportunities and proffer solutions to the challenges of non-oil export in thecountry. Speaking on the origin of the Zenith Bank Annual International Trade Seminar,Onyeagwu said that the commodity price slump of 2014-2016 was a watershed moment.According to him, “when crude oil prices plummeted from $114.55 per barrel in June 2014to $28.76 in January 2016, with an attendant effect on the availability of foreign exchange, itwas time to look towards the non-oil export sector for a more sustainable source of foreignexchange that is not susceptible to external shocks and price volatility. Highlighting some of the salient outcomes of the past six Zenith Bank Annual InternationalTrade Seminar editions, Onyeagwu noted that previous editions’ outcomes have foundexpression and influenced policy initiatives. For instance, the extension of the period ofrepatriation of Non-Oil Export proceeds from 90 days to 180 days and the policy mandatingshippers not to carry export without a Nigeria Export Proceeds (NXP) Form Number wererecommendations from previous seminars. Also, the need to incentivize exporters to
repatriate their export proceeds through the official channels and the recommendation tocreate export terminals across various export hubs in the country were also from pastseminars. Also, previous editions recommended having Export Desks in commercial banks,which has now been instituted. He also stated that Zenith Bank has trained over 100exporters through its Zero to Hero programmes which provide a platform for grooming andexposing beginners to become strong exporters by providing training on documentation,product sourcing, access to market and financing. He noted that Zenith Bank will continuethe advocacy of promoting non-oil export.Delivering his goodwill message, the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr. GodwinEmefiele, CON, commended Zenith Bank and its leadership led by the Founder andChairman of the Board, Jim Ovia, for its laudable initiative in organizing an annual exportseminar to explore opportunities in Nigeria’s non-oil export with a view to increasing thenation’s non-oil export base and ultimately increasing its share as a percentage of totalexport. In his words: “This is why the theme of this year’s seminar “Unlocking Opportunitiesin Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Business” is timely and appropriate. This is because the globaleconomy and structure are changing rapidly before our eyes. The previous world economicorder underpinned by globalization and seamless trade possibilities seems to be sufferingmajor disruptions lately. We believe Nigeria has a lot of potentials, and we can harness thisfor the good of our people and country.” He pointed out that the CBN has undertakenseveral 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, wealthcreation and economic growth of the country.In his keynote address, the President & Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Alhaji AlikoDangote, GCON, said that “Nigeria’s non-oil export is quite low compared to other Africantop oil producers. This exposes the economy to oil price/production risks. There is muchroom 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 inforeign exchange earnings from non-oil proceeds over the next 3-5 years, has very laudableobjectives, including enhancing foreign exchange inflow, diversifying the source of FXinflow, increasing the level of contribution from non-oil export, and ensuring stability andsustainability of FX flows.In his Goodwill Message, His Excellency, Wamkele Mene, Secretary General, AfricanContinental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, enumerated the progress andachievements of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the efforts to improve intra-Africa trade. Also, in his Goodwill Message, Professor Benedict Oramah, President /Chairman of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), highlighted the efforts ofAfreximbank to enhance intra-Africa trade through the implementation of the Pan-AfricanPayment and Settlement System (PAPSS). According to him, the Pan-African Payment andSettlement System will make it easy and seamless for Africans to trade amongstthemselves and receive payment for goods and services in their local currencies,eliminating currency conversion challenges.

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