Stakeholders unanimously called for support of Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Sector at the 7th
Annual Edition of the Zenith Bank International Trade Seminar themed “Unlocking
Opportunities in Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Business”, which was held on Wednesday, July
20, 2022, at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos and virtually.
In his Goodwill Message Presentation, the Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr.
Jim Ovia, CON, called for a concerted effort towards diversifying Nigeria’s export base
through the promotion of non-oil exports. Highlighting the importance of non-oil export to the
nation’s economy, Ovia pointed out that Nigeria exported cocoa and several other non-oil
products for years before oil was discovered. He cited the example of the 25-storey Cocoa
House in Ibadan, which was built with proceeds from cocoa exports. He pointed out that
many countries in the world, such as Japan and China been successful because they are
doing a great deal of innovation, production and manufacturing of goods and services.
According to him, we should also look at promoting the nation’s non-oil export sector
through technology to create technological giants like Apple, Tesla, and Google. And we
already have technology companies in this mould in Nigeria, such as Flutterwave, which
has a valuation of $3 billion, making it more valuable than some banks in Nigeria. Speaking
further on the enormous potential in Nigeria’s non-oil sector, Ovia highlighted the
phenomenal growth of Nigeria’s emerging financial technology (Fintech) companies such as
Flutherwave, OPay, Interswitch, Kuda and Paystack, with market valuations of $3 billion, $2
billion, $1 billion, $500 million, $200 million, respectively. According to him, this underscores
the enormous opportunity in the Fintech space. He also noted that the most capitalized
companies in the world, such as Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Tesla, Visa,
etc., are not oil companies but are in the technological innovation space.
In his welcome address, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank, Mr. Ebenezer
Onyeagwu, said that the annual Zenith Bank Trade Seminar has served as a veritable
platform to deepen the conversation on promoting non-oil export in Nigeria, bringing
together non-oil export practitioners and relevant government agencies to interact and
explore the opportunities and proffer solutions to the challenges of non-oil export in the
country. Speaking on the origin of the Zenith Bank Annual International Trade Seminar,
Onyeagwu said that the commodity price slump of 2014-2016 was a watershed moment.
According to him, “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.
Highlighting some of the salient outcomes of the past six Zenith Bank Annual International
Trade Seminar editions, Onyeagwu noted that previous editions’ outcomes have found
expression and influenced policy initiatives. For instance, the extension of the period of
repatriation of Non-Oil Export proceeds from 90 days to 180 days and the policy mandating
shippers not to carry export without a Nigeria Export Proceeds (NXP) Form Number were
recommendations from previous seminars. Also, the need to incentivize exporters to
repatriate their export proceeds through the official channels and the recommendation to
create export terminals across various export hubs in the country were also from past
seminars. Also, previous editions recommended having Export Desks in commercial banks,
which has now been instituted. He also stated that Zenith Bank has trained over 100
exporters through its Zero to Hero programmes which provide a platform for grooming and
exposing beginners to become strong exporters by providing training on documentation,
product sourcing, access to market and financing. He noted that Zenith Bank will continue
the advocacy of promoting non-oil export.
Delivering his goodwill message, the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr. Godwin
Emefiele, CON, commended Zenith Bank and its leadership led by the Founder and
Chairman of the Board, Jim Ovia, 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. In his words: “This is why the theme of this year’s seminar “Unlocking Opportunities
in Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Business” is timely and appropriate. This is because the global
economy and structure are changing rapidly before our eyes. The previous world economic
order underpinned by globalization and seamless trade possibilities seems to be suffering
major disruptions lately. We believe Nigeria has a lot of potentials, and we can harness this
for the good of our people and country.” He pointed out that the CBN has undertaken
several initiatives to promote the non-oil export sector because of its firm belief that the non-
oil export sector holds enormous potential to contribute to employment generation, wealth
creation and economic growth of the country.
In his keynote address, the President & Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko
Dangote, GCON, said that “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”.
According to him, the CBN RT200 FX programme, which aims to achieve $200 billion in
foreign exchange earnings from non-oil proceeds over the next 3-5 years, has very laudable
objectives, including enhancing foreign exchange inflow, diversifying the source of FX
inflow, increasing the level of contribution from non-oil export, and ensuring stability and
sustainability of FX flows.
In his Goodwill Message, His Excellency, Wamkele Mene, Secretary General, African
Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, enumerated the progress and
achievements of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the efforts to improve intra-
Africa trade. Also, in his Goodwill Message, Professor Benedict Oramah, President /
Chairman of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), highlighted the efforts of
Afreximbank to enhance intra-Africa trade through the implementation of the Pan-African
Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS). According to him, the Pan-African Payment and
Settlement System will make it easy and seamless for Africans to trade amongst
themselves and receive payment for goods and services in their local currencies,
eliminating currency conversion challenges.
Zenith Bank remains committed to promoting the non-oil export sector in Nigeria by
identifying emerging opportunities which help stimulate non-oil exports and develop robust
financial products and incentives for operators in the sector. The bank launched the Non-Oil
Export Seminar in 2017 as an initiative to deepen the discourse on promoting the non-oil
export business in Nigeria.