‘Zero oil plan to lift 20m out of poverty, create 500,000 additional jobs yearly’

Awolowo

Executive Director, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Segun Awolowo, has said that the zero oil plan is expected to create about 500,000 additional jobs yearly, due to an increase in productive and export activities, helping to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

The zero oil plan, Awolowo also said would lift about 20 million Nigerians out of poverty.

Speaking in Lagos recently, Awolowo said the zero oil plan has set a long-term goal of earning about $100 billion from about 22 major non-oil products over the next 10 years, representing 20 per ent of Nigeria’s GDP.

Noting that the initial target is to exceed $30 billion in non-oil exports over the next 10 years, if properly implemented, Awolowo said the plan will add an extra $150 billion (minimum) to Nigeria’s foreign reserves cumulatively from non-oil exports over the next decade.

He said: “Rolling out export policies for 22 major products that could generate up to $30 billion in foreign exchange a year. These include cotton, rice, leather, gold, soya, sugar, cocoa, petrochemicals, fertilizer, palm oil, rubber, cement, tomato, banana, oranges, cashew, cassava, sesame, spices, ginger, shea butter and cowpea.

“The zero oil plan has set a long-term goal of earning 20 percent of Nigeria’s GDP (i.e. $100 billion) from non-oil exports. The initial target however is to exceed $30 billion in non-oil exports over the next 10 years.

“Our targets are ambitious, but we must be ambitious if we are to achieve effective diversification. The Federal Government is committed to export diversification with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning integrating the zero oil plan as a core component of the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

“The National Economic Council (NEC) has constituted the National Committee on Export Promotion. This committee, chaired by the Jigawa State Governor, His Excellency, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, with some State Governors and relevant MDAs as members, drives the implementation of the Zero Oil Plan”.

Awolowo stressed that the strategic sectors identified in the zero oil plan have seen significant growth.

“For instance, sesame exports have increased by $153 million since 2016 – an increase of more than 100 per cent

“There has also been significant growth in exports in the cashew, fertiliser, and leather sectors. The Central Bank of Nigeria has approved the commencement of the Export Facilitation Initiative for five key non-oil products: cashew, cocoa, palm oil, sesame and shea. This will help producers access affordable loans, further boosting our non-oil exports,” he said.

The NEPC boss stressed that services export sector also continues to perform well adding that estimates from the IMF, put exports of services doubling since 2014, reaching more than $5 billion in 2017.
On the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, Awolowo said while the US and parts of Europe, notably the UK, are looking inwards, Africa and its most populous country are looking outwards.

“The potential is there for us to increase our exports to Africa and we should look at the AfCFTA with excitement and not fear. Egypt, for instance, imports $1.39 billion worth of soya beans annually. Kenya imported $860.5 million worth of iron and steel in 2018. These are two very contrasting products, but for both, Nigeria has strong comparative advantage. These are just two examples that show that the demand for products that Nigeria produces already exists on the African continent. We just have to tap into it,” he said.

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