Six state governors of the South-South geo-political zone of Nigeria are to deliberate and agree on the strategies to enhance the contributions of the region to non-oil exports, particularly within the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which has been scheduled to commence in July 2020.
The governors are Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Nyesom Woke (Rivers), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa-Ibom), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), and Benedict Ayade (Cross Rivers).
The governors are expected to reach the agreement in Asaba, Delta State, where the Nigeria Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank would be hosting the export enlightenment and engagement programme for the zone, in furtherance of its mandate of promoting the diversification of Nigerian economy and boosting non-oil exports.
The event, which would hold from January 28 – 30, at the Dome Event Centre, Okpanam Road, would be declared open by Governor Okowa alongside his South-South counterparts.
A release signed by the NEXIM’s management said the conference seeks to bring together exporters, bankers, policymakers, top government officials and other operators in the non-oil export sector towards highlighting the non-oil export potentials of the south-south region and other pertinent issues that impact the contribution of the region to economic diversification.
The theme of the conference “Maximising the Export Potentials of the South-South Region for Economic Growth” would be addressed by various high profile speakers, including chief executive officer of NEXIM, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), the Nigerian Incentive Risk-Based System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the Small & Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), the Nigerian Customs Service, the National Agency for Food & Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).
Others include the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service, the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) and the Raw Materials Research & Development Council (RMRDC).
Also to speak at the event are various banking institutions led by the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Development Bank of Nigeria, the Bank of Agriculture and the Bank of Industry.
Exporters and prospective exporters would also have the opportunity to display their products at the exhibition stalls that will be provided, while various capacity building sessions would be organised, particularly for the benefit of the Small and Medium Enterprises.
It would be recalled that following President Buhari’s assumption of office, the federal government had launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which seeks to promote economic diversification through the One State One Product (OSOP) programme.
Following the policy, the NEXIM launched the State Export Development Programme and earmarked N1 billion per state to catalyse the production and value addition of non-oil commodities for export.
The bank said it would, therefore, seize the opportunity of the forum to progress on-going discussions on the partnership opportunities towards enhancing the access to exporters in the South/South region to intervention funds.