The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Thursday said the export inflow at the Lekki Free Zone in Ibeju Lekki area of the State is projected to hit over $6 billion (about N2.159 trillion) by 2020, adding that it was time for Nigeria to develop sustainable roadmap to rev up export with particular focus on multi-sector products far beyond oil.
Speaking at the 2nd National Committee Meeting on Export Promotion of the National Economic Council held in Lagos, Ambode said beyond oil, it was now important for the country to put in place infrastructure and other initiatives to support other sectors with the view to preparing them for export.
He said already, the Lagos State Government had keyed into several export-oriented initiatives such as One-State One-Product Initiative, adding that it was gratifying to note that tremendous progress had been made in that regard.
He said: “Our efforts in this area include the development of Lekki Free Zone as a one-stop export processing zone and we are happy to report that we have made tremendous progress in this particular export zone and I hope participants would have the time to see what it is that is actually going on in that place.
“Just to give you a clearer picture of what we are saying. At the end of 2020 when the investment of the Dangote Industries and other Deep Seaport that we are putting in that place will fully come on stream, the export inflows that we are projecting for that place is over $6billion and that is just the way to go.”
Ambode said through the export initiatives being spearheaded and monitored by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, the State Government had identified and commenced the process of developing three key commodities in which the State has comparative and competitive advantage including Coconut, Fish and Vegetables.
He said: “We plan to facilitate the development of these commodities into exportable products. Our export promotion initiatives also include export aggregators designed to boost production capacities of our indigenous micro small and medium industries. The objective is to create locally made products and services that not only satisfy local market but meet competitive export demand.
“We have also developed enterprise zone, small scale industrial estate and light industrial parks in different parts of this State to provide business accommodation and also factory spaces, support made-in-Lagos campaign and to also enhance market access for our MSMEs.”
Ambode said the initiatives were some of the programmes of the State Government to support the Zero Oil plan of the Federal Government, just as he urged participants at the meeting to come up with a viable and sustainable agenda that would at the end of the day help in achieving Nigeria’s economic rebirth without reliance on oil.
While alluding to the visit of French President, Emmanuel Macron, to the New Afrika Shrine in Ikeja, the Governor said the development signposts the need for the country to develop other sectors of the economy, especially the creative industry, among others.
He said: “For me, the visit is clear that Afrobeat is a product that we can export but not only that, what about other things such as intellectual property and others that we need to harness to create a final product of our export policy. What about fashion? What about arts? There are lots of export products that we can export beyond Agriculture.
“However, before we can do that, we must put in place the infrastructure and the framework to support these industries and that is the core of this whole story. The message here is that let us expand the scope of our export considerations and increase the wealth of our nation.
“If one of the most powerful men in the world is a lover of our music and culture, then we must look inwards and find ways to export this. Our State is big on arts and entertainment and we believe strongly that this is a very lucrative avenue to create wealth and employment for our people.”
According to the Governor, the economic indicators of the country were such that reliance on oil without planning for the future was dangerous, and so something urgent must be done to promote other sectors.
Ambode said: “For all the years, if you say oil is 90 per cent of what our economy is all about, if there is a flip in the price of oil, what happens to 190 million people on just one product? Who does that? So, the idea is this, if in 2050, Nigeria is targeted to be the third largest country in the world with 400 million people and then maybe Lagos population by then will be about 50million people, then there is going to be a problem if by now we are not thinking about other products.
“And then, who cares about oil anyway when there are people using vehicles without oil and so something must be wrong if we are not thinking 2050 in 2018. We have been speaking about this and it is almost sounding like a broken record but if something goes wrong with oil, what are we doing.”
The Governor said though the Federal Government had shown leadership and good examples about rice production, but that it was important to come up with a national policy on export to create a roadmap to engender sustainable promotion of export.
Ambode said: “Beyond agric product and others, this is one singular opportunity for us to create a roadmap of an export policy that will be known as the National Policy on Export for the next 25 years which each State will key into and follow. The whole message is that we need to be broader in our approach. I believe strongly that the export policy strategy is another way to put Nigeria on the global map and that is the only way we can continue to bring ourselves together to promote export.”
Besides, Governor Ambode advocated synergy among all the Federal Government agencies and State Governments to promote export, while also calling on Nigeria to immediately ratify the agreement on African Continental Free Trade Area which had already been signed by 49 out of 55 countries, adding: “Nigeria must show leadership because the whole of Africa is waiting for us to show leadership and we must drive the economy of the continent.”
Earlier, Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, called on State Governments to seriously consider bringing export products in their respective States for the Committee on Export Promotion to look at, saying such was important going forward.