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Non-oil sector critical to economic growth – Jim Ovia, others

Stakeholders Wednesday called for support of Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Sector at the 7th Annual Edition of the Zenith Bank Interna\tional Trade Seminar themed “Unlocking Opportunities…

Stakeholders Wednesday called for support of Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Sector at the 7th Annual Edition of the Zenith Bank Interna\tional Trade Seminar themed “Unlocking Opportunities in Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Business”, which was held in Lagos.

The Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr Jim Ovia, called for a concerted effort toward diversifying Nigeria’s export base through the promotion of non-oil exports.

He pointed out that Nigeria had exported cocoa and several other non-oil products for years before oil was discovered.

Ovia highlighted the phenomenal growth of Nigeria’s emerging financial technology (Fintech) companies such as Flutterwave, OPay, Interswitch, Kuda and Paystack, with market valuations of $3bn, $2bn, $1bn, $500 million, $200m, respectively.

The Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, said the seminar was to re-direct Nigeria to diversify the economy after the commodity price slump of 2014-2016.

“When crude oil prices plummeted from $114.55 per barrel in June 2014 to $28.76 in January 2016, with an attendant effect on the availability of foreign exchange, it was time to look towards the non-oil export sector for a more sustainable source of foreign exchange that is not susceptible to external shocks and price volatility”.

The Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele commended Zenith Bank for its laudable initiative in organizing an annual export seminar to explore opportunities in Nigeria’s non-oil export with a view to increasing the nation’s non-oil export base and ultimately increasing its share as a percentage of total export.

The President & Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote said, “Nigeria’s non-oil export is quite low compared to other African top oil producers. This exposes the economy to oil price/production risks. There is much room for growth, and the CBN is helping drive this through the RT200 programme”.

The Secretary-General, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Wamkele Mene enumerated the progress and achievements of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the efforts to improve intra-Africa trade.