By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has advised the federal government to intensify its efforts to scale up Nigeria’s exports in order to address the scarcity of foreign exchange (forex) in the country.
Speaking on Thursday at the RT 200 Non-Oil Export Summit organised by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Lagos, Mr Sanwo-Olu said the country has enough resources to take to other nations for FX earnings.
According to him, Nigeria should shift its attention from oil and gas and focus on agricultural produce, solid minerals, chemical products, furniture and clothing as well as tourism among others, noting that a situation in which the energy sector consistently accounts for the bulk of government revenues and forex earnings was not ideal.
At the event themed Setting the Roadmap toward achieving RT200 and non-oil export for development, the Governor emphasised that, “We can do a lot to strengthen the Naira and our external reserves by focusing on our non-oil exports. This diversification also gives us immunity from the severe shock of depending on a limited pool of exports.”
He commended the apex bank for coming up with the $200 billion FX Scheme (RT200), an initiative aimed to generate about $200 billion in FX earnings, specifically from non-oil sources, over the next few years.
“I am aware that, so far, the central bank has approved the payment of billions of Naira to more than 100 exporters who have taken advantage of the scheme and have scaled up their non-oil exports of finished and
semi-finished goods in line with it.
“I have no doubt that this scheme will go from strength to strength, and deliver to an extent beyond the expectations of the Central Bank and the Nigerian economy. I urge exporters to readily take advantage of it. I also urge the central bank to continue to finetune and strengthen this process, while also thinking of new and innovative initiatives that will achieve similar outcomes,” Governor Sanwo-Olu said.
He used the occasion to inform the guests that his administration is making efforts to improve the “state of transportation infrastructure, to enable imports and exports, and generally bring down the cost of doing business.”
“When goods for export get stuck on the roads and can’t make it to the ports, we have a big problem on our hands. There is a big price that the economy pays for these dysfunctions, at all levels – from the small and
large businesses whose goods are being exported to the people in the business of exports, to the users of our roads who have to waste valuable time in traffic because of worsening gridlock.
“It is, therefore, our responsibility, as governments, to ensure that we make the business of exporting (and also importing) as seamless as possible. Nigeria has so much potential to scale up its exports, shifting from over-dependence on oil and gas to agricultural produce, solid minerals, chemical products, furniture, clothing, and so on,” he submitted, stressing that “a country in need of foreign exchange has no business downplaying the importance of exports.”