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Nigeria Must Diversify, Embrace Non-Oil Export To Overcome FX Challenges, Says Obasanjo

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has stressed the need for the country to divert from a mono-economy marked by over-dependence on oil and embrace non-oil exports, particularly agribusiness, to overcome the forex problem that has adversely impacted the nation’s economy. 

He equally noted that the discovery of oil some years back which was then regarded as a blessing is now becoming a curse as some economists have affirmed given the distortion it has caused the country’s economy.

Chief Obasanjo disclosed this in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Sunday at the closing ceremony of a week intensive “Agribusiness Export Readiness Accelerator Training Programme” for 200 entrepreneurs drawn across the country held at Oke Ona Conference Hall of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) Abeokuta.

“Historically, Nigeria has been known for its near total dependence on earnings from petroleum export, and her economy has suffered devastation arising from various oil shocks without any buffer to cushion against major declines,” he said.

“What was initially celebrated as a major blessing has become what economists now refer to as ‘oil curse’. The recent volatility in the oil market and the expansive global push towards alternative energy now leaves no one in doubt about the urgency of diversifying our economic base through the promotion of non-oil exports.”

He believes with Nigeria’s enormous resource endowments, economic diversification is achievable in the shortest possible time if robust policies with appropriate implementation mechanisms are put in place, running consistently over a period of time.

According to him, nations like Indonesia and Malaysia were once mono-product economies like Nigeria, but are now well diversified and therefore less vulnerable to global economic shocks

The former President expressed his sadness that Africa has continued to remain at the bottom of the global trade pyramid and global value chain accounting for only 1.9% of global manufacturing because it has failed to add value to its little export of primary commodities.

“In Nigeria, not only do we export our oil as crude, we turn around to import virtually all our petroleum products from other nations. The story is not remarkably different for our non-oil exports,” Obasanjo said.

“Since international trade is a good barometer of the world economic growth and development, it then becomes quite easy to understand the poor economic performance of Africa in general, and Nigeria in particular”.

The former President, who said he is now into exporting woods among other agricultural products, noted those who would be successful in agribusiness exports must however be resilient, dedicated, and embrace quality standards.

He, therefore, lauded AFREXIMBANK for organising the agribusiness export readiness accelerator programme as it is aimed at stimulating value-added agro-based exports within and outside Africa.

Obasanjo added that “this is a game-changing development for Nigeria and the continent at large, and the strategic move aligns perfectly with the goal of fostering economic self-sufficiency and reducing our dependence on oil”.

The former President also lauded the Africa Leadership Foundation for its commitment to supporting the prosperity of the country, saying that the foundation has not only helped to increase the capacity of 36,000 SMEs through a partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria, UNIDO, state governments, and international non-governmental agencies but has also through its business development programme also supported SMEs to raise over N2bn for business startup or for expansion.

Speaking at the event, the President of Afreximbank, Dr Benedict Oramah represented by Mr Ody Akhanoba, Senior Manager, Export Development disclosed that there has recently been an increase in demand for processed
agricultural products from Africa, especially in diaspora hubs such as the US, UK, and France.

He urged participants to maximise this growing diaspora market to further improve the fortunes of the continent.

Dr Oramah said that the training was designed to provide the participants with the requisite entrepreneurial knowledge and export readiness skills needed to trade across borders, particularly with the mother of all opportunities in the operation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfFCTA) with the capacity to unlock a market of 1.3 billion people valued at US$ 3 trillion in GDP.

On his part, the Executive Director of Africa Leadership Foundation (ALF), Dr Olumide Ajayi, said that the training has indeed been an eye opener to how the entrepreneurs could help foster the prosperity, growth, and development of Nigeria and Africa as a whole by maximising the potentials in agribusiness.

Short URL: https://www.africanexaminer.com/?p=91706

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