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Business News of Saturday, 20 February 2021

Source: The Nation

Nigeria’ll escape over-dependence on oil revenue in 10 years —Awolowo

Considering recent steps being taken to boost Nigeria’s non-oil sector, the country is expected to exit the age-long dependence on crude oil revenue in about 10 years.

The Executive Director/CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo, disclosed this to State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday.

According to him, the non-oil sector could give Nigeria as much as $30 billion in the next 10 years, the effect of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic notwithstanding.

“But more importantly, we must just continue, we must increase production and productivity all across the two sectors that the zero oil plan is postulating for the country and then we get out of it.

“We cannot run an economy that 90 percent of our earnings is from crude oil. It is just not working, and that is what we are seeing throughout the years when we went into first recession when the world oil prices stood worldwide.”

While noting the changing world dynamics, he said: “We need to move again from just raw materials. We need to look at the entire value chain, and that is where you create jobs and that is where you earn more money.

“So, 10 years time frame we are looking at to get to $30 billion, but we must be consistent, we must invest more in the non-oil sectors than looking for oil,” he said.

On the implementation of the Zero Oil Plan, Awolowo affirmed that it has received enormous support and buy-in even as it is integrated in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, adding that the National Economic Council has set up a National Committee on Exports to drive it.

“The entire world is now raising a lot of concerns about the long-term devastating impacts of oil and focusing on climate change. The unpredictability of oil prices will not stop. First 2008, oil price crashed due to global financial crises; then in 2014 oil price crashed due to shale over production; then in 2020, oil price crashed due to COVID.

ADVERTISEMENT“We have seen a return to a positive GDP growth in last quarter of 2020. We have now seen strong recoveries in agriculture (growth of 3.4%) and Services, and those sectors put a lid on 2020 declines.

”We have achieved a lot, but we continue to get requests from all the states for export programmes. And these initiatives touch the grassroots, women, youths, creates hundreds of thousands of jobs”, he said.

Acknowledging the president’s support to NEPC and the non-oil export sector, he recalled that the non-oil exports sector was experiencing challenges, especially with the basic incentive, the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) being suspended, with over N350 billion in unpaid EEG claims.

”The situation had dire effects on exporters. Some shut down plants, some laid off people thereby increasing the number of unemployed population. Mr President rescued the situation with his approval of the new EEG scheme”, he said.

He observed that the biggest surprise has been Nigeria’s swift recovery from recession in Q4 of 2020 and congratulated the president for his effort.

“In a now less predictable, less reliable and less generous world, he has definitely demonstrated with his leadership that we are able to build a resilient economy that can absorb all global shocks, whatever they may be, known and unknown,” Awolowo stated.

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