The lack of export strategy by Nigeria will deny her the opportunity of reaping maximally from African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a faculty member of the Lagos Business School (LBS), Dr Frank Ojadi, has said. To block the loophole, he advised government to design one that will guide products meant for export. Ojadi made the submission in Abuja at a five-day training programme aimed at equipping participants with relevant knowledge, tools and skills required to develop their export business in line with global best practices.
He warned that the absence of a clear cut guidelines on exports may hinder Nigeria from benefiting maximally from AfCFTA agreement when it takes off. The LBS Faculty urged the Federal Government to take deliberate steps to address the challenges confronting coastal shipping as well as the high costs of shipping.
“I was examining the coastal shipping which ought to boost the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and I discovered that high costs in our ports and shipping are contributing to our not being competitive enough to export products. “Coastal shipping will help in properly placing Nigeria to reap bountifully from the Af- CFTA. Infrastructural deficits that are associated with shipping will affect trade going to different parts of the world from Nigeria.”
Dr Ojadi identified lack of capacity as another factor impeding export trade in Nigeria. “Government and other stakeholders such as banks need to prioritize equipping people and building their capacities to understand what export means. It is very important for people to know the process and learn the procedures. Of course, some of these activities required, need infrastructure capabilities of the country. As long as that continues to be a problem, they will impede export trade,” he said. With regard to the dynamics of export trade, Ojadi said: “The external dimension of the challenges confronting exports by Nigeria has to do with understanding the market we are exporting to. These days, most countries are wary of the products that come into their territories.
“Foods and drug agencies are very strict on what should get into their countries. For example, Ghana with about 30 million population exports more than Nigeria which has almost 200 million people. Why? Because they comply with export guidelines and also understand the standard that is required. Ghana focuses on building an ‘export strategy’ for each product they want to export.” Ojadi advised that “for any country that is interested in export, it must get international bodies to certify their process.
The emphasis is not on the products, but the process that is used to produce products. The approved process can then be used for other products. So, once you get that certification, you are on your way to hitting the export market. Nigeria needs to work on this area.” Team Lead, Export and Agriculture of Fidelity Bank (organisers of the export clinic), Emmanuel Nwalor, said: “The event was organised by Fidelity Bank Plc in collaboration with Lagos Business School and Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) with the aim of empowering exporters and non-exporters to develop interest in the export space for everyone to be able to contribute to the growth of the economy.”
He stated that what Fidelity Bank Plc “has discovered that is hampering export is lack of capacity among the stakeholders. People that are interested in going into export must have adequate knowledge about the terrain. It is not an area one goes into without cultivating enough knowledge otherwise one could lose his money easily.”