The United States Agency for International Development has disclosed plans to support the country’s non-oil sector with a special fund of $3m (N606.6m) following calls for increased investment in the sector in the face of falling crude oil prices.
The new Chief of Party, USAID/Nigeria Expanded Trade and Transport programme, Mr. Marc Shiman, stated this during a meeting with the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo.
According to a statement by NEPC, Shiman said that about $3m special fund tagged ‘Product Development Fund’, has been made available by USAID for operators along the Lagos-Kano-Jibiya ‘LAKAJI’ Corridor Development Project to access under specific guidelines and through a transparent process.
Shiman said the fund would provide support for research, training and capacity building, business process among other technical assistance along the corridor.
“The goal is to develop and expand exports as well as attract investments from Nigeria. In order to ensure a transparent process for accessing the fund, NEPC has been nominated as a member of the committee that will administer the fund,” he said.
Awolowo had during the meeting stated that there was a need for alternative funding sources to develop exportable products and enhance market opportunities for existing ones in the country, in a bid to diversify the production base of the country’s economy from oil to non-oil.
He added that the council was making efforts to access international funds that would help enhance product development, market research, capacity building for exporters among other technical support that would increase the quality of exportable products from the country from development partners such as USAID/NEXTT.
He said, “Efforts to diversify the economy will soon yield result as the Federal Government through the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan has identified 13 National Strategic Export Products that will replace oil while it will be supported by two key NEPC initiatives – the One State One Product and Nigerian Diaspora Export Programme.
“The NSEPs are grouped under three categories: agro industrial products – including palm oil, cocoa, sugar, rice and cashew; mining-related products such as cement, iron ore and metals, auto parts and cars and aluminum, and thirdly, oil and gas industrial products – including petroleum products, fertilizer and urea, petrochemical and menthol.”
According to Awolowo, the aim of OSOP is to identify and develop in each state of the federation, one non-oil product across its value chain for export.
“The initiative takes cognisance of the country’s comparative advantage in terms of the vastness of its natural endowments,” he said.
He explained that the NDEX project had two components – the Nigerian Heritage City and the Nigerian Cuisine beyond Borders.
“This programme is to leverage on the large population of Nigerians in Diaspora as a means of introducing the best of Nigeria to their host countries and communities just like China Town in USA,” he added.
He, however, noted that for exporters to leverage on the huge potentials in the sector there was a need for value addition as no nation could survive by merely exporting raw commodities.