With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in operation, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has tasked Nigerian exporters to build capacities and be prepared to compete under the free trade area to avoid dumping of goods in the country, and build on the Zero Oil Plan (ZOP). In a related effort, Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, inaugurated a Shared Facility for MSMEs at the Ogbunike Leather Trading Cluster and the Awka 120MVA 132/33KV Power Sub-Station in Anambra State, southeast of Nigeria.
The Executive Director/CEO of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo, was speaking while receiving in his office, the Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, in Abuja, Nigeria.
We (Nigerians) must be ready with an army of exporters to compete with our goods under AfCFTA to avoid dumping of foreign goods in the country,” he stated.
Segun Awolowo reiterated the need to formalize trade along the border markets, which are more prevalent along the Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroon border markets respectively.
He also noted that the huge potential in Borno State necessitates the establishment of an Export Production Village (EPV) in Gum Arabic and Sesame seed in order to enhance the quality of the commodities for export especially in terms of model farms and scaling-up production for export.
While commending the governor for his resilience and good governance despite the incursion of insurgents, Awolowo pledged the Council’s support to the development and promotion of non-oil export under the Zero Oil Plan (ZOP) and in line with the Export Development Fund (EDF) to boost export activities in the state.
The Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, decried the incessant felling of Gum Arabic plantations by some unscrupulous people who use it as fuel wood for cooking, noting that about 40 percent of fuel wood used in the state are from Gum Arabic.
At the inauguration event in Anambra State, Vice President Osinbajo also said that the Second Niger Bridge Project, which connects Asaba in Delta State and Onitsha in Anambra State, has now achieved 65 per cent completion and will be completed by October 2022.
The vice president noted that the concession of the Onitsha Inland River Port is in its final stages, while both the draft Concession Agreement and the Full Business Case (FBC) have been transmitted to the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) for necessary action.
The cumulative effects of the Shared Facility for MSMEs, the Awka 120MVA 132/33KV Power Sub-Station, the Onitsha Inland River Port, and the Second Niger Bridge projects show the resolve of the federal government to position the southeast zone as a strategic industrial and trade hub. They also demonstrate the conviction that Anambra State and the Southeast at large have a huge role to play in the drive to foster economic growth, lift people out of poverty, and support Nigeria’s competitiveness in the Africa Continental Free Trade Areas Agreement AfCFTA) environment.