Bureaucratic bottlenecks and multiple charges that are levied by diverse government agencies have been identified as major barriers against potential exporters and impediment to the non-oil revenue worth $250 billion a year. These impediments to the “Ease of Doing Business” template of the World Bank, to which Nigeria is committed, could stifle the country’s competitiveness in the Africa Continental Free Trade Areas agreement (AfCFTA) environment.
The apex regulatory body, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), lent credence to the constraints, saying there are a total of 16 sundry charges currently tolled on exports, out of which only five have official receipts, as reported in THE GUARDIAN.
Stakeholders, who met at the just concluded Aviation and Cargo Conference and Exhibition (CHINET 21) in Lagos, Nigeria said there is huge revenue potential in non-oil exports that the stifling business environment and official corruption militate against.
Cargo exporter and Chief Executive Officer of ABX World, Capt. John Okakpu, said a proper adherence to export market requirements, vis-à-vis local produce potential, has the capacity to rake in $250 billion in agro export commodities alone.
Okakpu said, unfortunately, Nigeria is not playing in the global exporting space, but merely “hawking” in bits and pieces for years. He said the challenges account for the current 85 to 15 per cent import to export ratio in the country, and “why cargo airplanes are leaving the country empty.”
“Besides the multiplication of agencies and regulatory departments at the exit points, the government’s fees and taxes are about 90 per cent higher than our nearest competitor. So in most cases, it is cheaper for most freighter aircraft to depart from Nigeria empty than carry available cargo.”
Director General of the NCAA, represented by Group Capt. Edem Eyo-Ita, said the one-too-many handling charges pose the main constraint to cargo in local aviation.
Eyo-Ita said it was regrettable that only one local airline operates in the freight sub-sector to date, despite emerging opportunities in cargo services in the pandemic age.
He said having up to 16 different charges, out of which only five are official, is discouraging and should be tackled by improved collaboration by all stakeholders
Director of Product Development at the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), William Ezeagu, said efforts were at an advanced stage to set up a Domestic Export Warehouse and Aggregate Centre, as a one-stop shop for all non-oil produce. He said that the center would harmonize activities and certification requirements of diverse agencies, as well as ensure quality assurance for seamless export to destinations.