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‘Why Nigeria must increase non-oil export’

As the petrodollar economy dips to a record low, stakeholders have stressed the urgent need for Nigeria to increase local production and boost non-oil exports to earn more foreign exchange.

Nigeria, a major oil-exporting country had earlier benchmarked its 2020 budget on $57 per barrel, but the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crashed prices to below $20 per barrel, thereby throwing the nation off balance on-budget implementation.

Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Usman, among other stakeholders that spoke at an interactive session on the BudgIT-organised webinar, tagged ‘Non-Oil Exports: Disrupting Nigeria’s Growth Cycle’ bemoaned the low level of non-oil export in the country.

Usman said the expected revenue from the seaports might drop by 75 per cent, as crude exports and prices decline due to the effect of COVID-19.

She said: “By the reduced crude oil price and shipment, revenue expected by the government from the ports will be reduced by 75 per cent.

“This underscores the importance of diversification of the economy through non-oil exports so that we can reverse this trend.

“There is a need to encourage local investors. We are a large country of consumers. We need to increase local production. We need to make domestic investment a priority.”

The NPA boss said about 191 million metric tonnes of export cargo passed through the nation’s seaports in 2019, 78 per cent of which was crude oil cargo, while the remaining 22 per cent was non-oil export.

Executive Secretary, Nigeria Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), Yewande Sadiku, predicted that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into African countries was expected to fall by 30 to 40 per cent in 2020 and 2021.

She stressed that Nigeria needed not only to attract more FDI but to also increase production capacity in-country to grow the non-oil export.

Sadiku, who listed countries such as United States, China, Singapore, Netherland and United Kingdom as top recipients of FDI globally, said that Africa, which contributes 17 per cent of the global population, was only able to attract three per cent of global FDI.

She said: “Whether oil or non-oil export, investors are looking for one thing, which is a conducive environment, financial return as well as sustainable and available asset,”

She called on multinationals to diversify their production base without concentrating on one region.

Publisher, Nairametrics, Ugo Chukwu, emphasised the need to do away with reliance on crude oil as a nation.

He said that Nigeria would continue to suffer currency depreciation if it failed to diversify immediately.

Chukwu noted that a country that relied on oil to earn revenue, especially foreign exchange, would not develop.

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