Lagos State is one of the nation’s success stories in non-oil exports as key components of economic diversification. Its Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment has held a workshop to expose entrepreneurs to export opportunities.
Oil exports have weathered many storms in the last five years as prices keep falling and rising, causing disruptions to revenue projections.
To address this, the Federal Government has implemented reforms and pursued economic diversification to cope with the changing dynamics in the global energy market. These include raising revenue from new sources amid uncertainties over the pace of oil demand.
Following this, non–oil exports, taken through Lagos ports annually is worth more than $10 billion, highlighting their importance to economic growth. Encouragingly, non-oil exports have been growing in recent years, though oil still makes up a significant majority of the country’s external sales.
Lagos State wants more activities within the sector and is ready to support internationally-engaged businesses and entrepreneurs to reap the rewards of trading with global customers.
To stimulate the growth of non-oil exports, the state has started a campaign to promote non-oil products.
However, big companies have continued to dominate the export industry as a few small and medium enterprises (SMEs) participate in export business.
Addressing a workshop on Non-Oil Export in Alimosho, Ikeja, Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf urged owners of small businesses to embrace the export platforms being created for them by the state to increase patronage for their products and services, saying efforts were on to support small business owners to export their products.
The government, she said, is conscious of the need to diversify the economy, create jobs and increase foreign earning.
By diversifying the economy, she said the government will be able to tap export earnings from value-added and manufactured products, pointing out that there are huge opportunities for entrepreneurs to explore in the non-oil exports.
To achieve this, she said the state government is creating a better business climate, including through incentives and better regulation, adding that the workshop was held to improve the value and competitiveness of non-oil exports and empower entrepreneurs with capacities to explore exports markets.
She said as the state was driven by the desire to build its economy through economic empowerment of individuals. Creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and breaking limitations in non-oil export remain veritable tools to achieving this lofty goal.
Mrs Akinbile-Yusuf urged entrepreneurs, who still view export as a slippery slope, to ignore their fears and leverage the structure created by Lagos State to build their capacity with a view to seeking external patronage for their products.
The Commissioner assured participants that in line with its establishing mandate, the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment will continue to be an enabling institution that creates sustainable wealth for Lagos citizens and develop the capacity of entrepreneurs with potentials to become export champions.
She bemoaned the age-long over-reliance on oil, stressing that “oil is not our messiah and waiting for its price to rebound in the international market is a recipe for disaster”.
According to Akinbile-Yusuf, entrepreneurs’ exposure to exportation of their goods would increase employment and wealth creation drive of the state, urging them to leverage the viability of the social media platforms to boost sales and patronage for their businesses.
Also speaking at the event, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Akinwumi Ambode on Wealth Creation and Employment, Mrs. Temiwunmi Tope-Banjoko, said the event was meant to build the capacity of entrepreneurs to develop an interest in goods and products exportation.
According to the SSA, the present situation of businesses across the world demands that entrepreneurs should begin to think outside the box and explore new frontiers for their businesses.
“As businessmen and women, operating in Lagos does not imply that you restrict or limit your operations to Lagos alone, take advantage of other states across the country and from there, you will gradually expand to some Africa countries and gain a global brand for your products,” Tope-Banjoko said.
She also harped on registration with the appropriate regulating arm of the government like the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and Corporate Affairs Commission, among others.
The workshop facilitator, who is also the Principal Consultant, Wiseplanne Consulting Ltd, Mr. Sam Omole, emphasised the need for local business owners, who are desirous of exporting their goods to foreign consumers, to follow due processes in positioning their products and making them export-worthy.
According to him, lack of appropriate and market information about who the consumers of products are, their country of residence, their needs, philosophy and other relevant information, had limited the chances of exporting most of Nigerian products.
Speaking on why most Nigerian products did not meet export requirements, the facilitator said “most business owners do not pay attention to necessary details, they don’t follow due processes and structure and they do not have their businesses registered”.