The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith Bank, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu has called for a concerted effort towards diversifying the country’s export base through the promotion of non-oil exports. He made the call during a Webinar themed “Prospects of Non-Oil Export During and Post COVID-19” organized by the bank on Wednesday, August 26, 2020.
According to him, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic which has impacted the demand for oil and, by extension, the price of crude oil in the international commodities market has further exposed Nigeria’s over-dependency on crude oil earnings and its susceptibility to oil-related shocks. He added that the events of the last couple of months have also highlighted the limited range of the country’s value-added products exported to foreign markets.
He noted further that boosting non-oil export is imperative in view of the opportunities that exist in the broader contexts of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which seeks to create a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people with combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion and about $4 trillion in consumer and business spending.
Whilst 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.
Delivering the keynote address, the Director of Trade & Exchange, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. (Mrs) Ozoemena Nnaji, who commended Zenith Bank for organizing the webinar at a time like this, observed that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for the country, as it has once again exposed the over-dependence of the Nigerian economy on one product. She therefore 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), Mr. 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.
Zenith Bank remains committed to the promotion of the non-oil export sector in Nigeria by identifying emerging opportunities which help in stimulating non-oil exports and developing robust financial products and incentives for operators in the sector. The bank launched the Non-Oil Export Seminar in 2017 as an initiative to deepen the discourse on promoting non-oil export business in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Real Estate Sector Shrinks by 8.06% in the Third Quarter -NBS
Economic uncertainty plunged Nigeria’s real estate sector by 8.06 percent in the third quarter of the year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Nigeria’s statistics office said “In nominal terms, real estate services recorded a growth rate of –8.06 per cent in the third quarter of 2020, indicating a decline of –11.78 per cent points compared to the growth rate at the same period in 2019, and by 9.12 per cent points when compared to the preceding quarter.
“Quarter-on-quarter, the sector growth rate was 18.92 per cent.
“Real GDP growth recorded in the sector in Q3 2020 stood at -13.40 per cent, lower than the growth recorded in third quarter of 2019 by –11.09 per cent points, but higher relative to Q2 2020 by 8.59 per cent points.
“Quarter-on-quarter, the sector grew by 17.15 per cent in the third quarter of 2020.
“It contributed 5.58 per cent to real GDP in Q3, 2020, lower than the 6.21 per cent it recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2019.”
Nigeria’s economy contracted by 2.48 percent in the first nine months following a 6.10 percent and 3.62 percent contraction in the second and third quarters respectively.
Nigeria Requires N400 Billion Annually to Maintain Federal Roads -Senator Bassey
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on road maintenance, Senator Gersome Bassey, on Friday said Nigeria requires about N400 billion annually to maintain federal roads across the country.
The Senator, therefore, described the N38 billion budgeted for road repairs in the 2021 proposed Budget as grossly inadequate. According to him, nothing meaningful could be achieved by the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) with such an amount.
He said, “For the 35 kilometres federal roads in the country to be motorable at all times, the sum of N400bn is required on yearly basis for maintenance.”
Bassey “What the committee submitted to the Appropriation Committee in the 2021 fiscal year is the N38bn proposed for it by the executive which cannot cover up to one quarter of the entire length of deplorable roads in the country.
“Unfortunately, despite having the power of appropriation, we cannot as a committee jerk up the sum since we are not in a position to carry out the estimation of work to be done on each of the specific portion of the road.
“Doing that without proposals to that effect from the executive, may lead to project insertion or padding as often alleged in the media.”
Scarcity of Day-Old-Chicks Cripple Poultry Farmers in Akwa Ibom
Despite billions of Naira spent on Akwa Prime Hatchery and Poultry Limited by the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, poultry farmers in the state said they had to order day-old-chicks from outside the state as the 200,000 capacity poultry farm developed specifically to make day-old-chicks and other poultry products available at affordable prices is almost empty at the moment.
The farmers expressed frustration over many challenges they face in the course of bringing day-old-chicks from outside the state. Usually, Ibadan, Enugu and sometimes as far as Kaduna, while the hatchery built and inaugurated in 2016 remains idle.
Mr Ekot Akpan, one of the poultry farmers who spoke with the pressmen said the state had not had it this bad.
Akpan said: “For the 12 years that I have been in poultry farming, this is the first time that poultry farmers have been so harshly affected by both economic and non-economic factors. And, quite unfortunately, nobody is available to offer any explanation.
“Farmers have been left at the whims and caprice of owners of the means of production.
“There seems to be no government regulation of the poultry industry. How, do you explain a situation where you wake up suddenly and the price of a day old chick is selling for N600, a bag of feed goes as high as N6,000.
“And, in a state that government claims to be pursuing agriculture as one of his cardinal programmes.
“For instance, in 2016, the state government said it has constructed an hatchery, and the intention according the government was to ensure availability of day old chicks at affordable price to farmers, but, quite, unfortunately, that effort has not yielded any tangible result.
“Farmers are still getting their day old chicks from Ibadan, Kaduna, and Enugu. So, the question now is where is the hatchery?
“One would have expected that farmers would be buying old chicks at humane prices, but, from all indications they acclaimed hatchery is a ruse. So, which one is the Akwa Prime Hatchery producing,” he said.
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