By Collins Nweze
Nigeria needs more revenue from the non-oil ssector which can be achieved by diversifying the economy, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith Bank Plc, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, has said.
The bank chief spoke on Wednesday at a webinar organised by the bank in Lagos with theme: “Prospects of non-oil export during and Post-COVID-19”.
According to him, COVID-19 pandemic has led to drop in crude oil demand and prices, exposing Nigeria’s over reliance on crude oil earnings and susceptibility to oil-related shocks.
He added that the events of the last couple of months have shown limited volume of Nigeria’s value-added products for exports.
Onyeagwu listed the gains of improving non-oil export, including the opportunities in the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), expected to create a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people. There is also combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion and about $4 trillion in consumer and business spending.
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.
Director of Trade & Exchange, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mrs. Ozoemena Nnaji, commended Zenith Bank for organising the webinar at a time like this, observed that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for the country.
She 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), 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