• Nigeria has announced plan to boost its non-oil exports with N50billion as part of its Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).

The decision, followed Fridays’ official launch of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Trade Promotion Organizations (TPO) Network Friday towards increasing the volume of trade within the region.

 Executive Director /CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Segun Awolowo is also the inaugural president of the ECOWAS TPOs.

Also, the NEPC is now repositioning the nation’s export through the implementation of its N50 billion Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP), which is part of the ESP whose development and implementation is being led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The EEFP is expected to significantly raise the volume of non-oil exports in Nigeria, a spin-off of the Zero Oil Plan developed by Awolowo and approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Besides providing financial support for the average Nigerian exporter, the EEFP is also going to see the establishment of top-notch warehouses in the country close to airports where Nigerian goods meant for export would be packaged to global competitive standards ahead of their exportation.

The EEFP, in line with the federal government’s ESP, is focused on cushioning the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on non-oil export businesses, thereby safeguarding jobs and creating new ones.

Earlier in March this year, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Otunba Niyi Adebayo officially flagged off the EEFP and also launched the first online Grant Management Portal (GMP) for non-oil exports.

While the EEFP is being implemented by the NEPC, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment is the supervisory body over the agency and its operations.

Although the programme anticipated 500 beneficiaries, but it had received over 3,500 applications for the grant since its launch, out of which over 2,000 were verified after meeting the eligibility criteria.

Aside from being an intervention to save and create jobs, Adebayo noted that the programme “will support resilience in shoring up foreign exchange, diversification, modernization of Nigeria’s economy and acceleration of economic growth and economic support.”

Under the EEFP, there are 16 programmes as approved in the Implementation Work plan under seven Work streams namely – Capacity Building, Emergency Interventions, Export Aggregation, Export Inclusion, Export Trade facilitation, Institutional Strengthening and Market Development.

For instance, the Emergency Intervention is to support existing exporters in responding to shocks caused by COVID-19, while Market Development involves penetrating identified export markets as value chain analysis for priority products, leveraging Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) and other trade treaties.

Considering the significance role it plays in growing the Nigerian economy, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are the target group of support from the EEFP and the Export Development Fund (EDF).

At the launch of the TPO Network, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated that there was need to expand intra-regional trade in the ECOWAS sub-region, with the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

In the same vein, Awolowo further stated that the Network will work towards facilitating the ease of trade for MSMEs within the ECOWAS region and Africa in general.