Nigeria has lost about $10bn (about N3.6tn) over the past five decades in non-oil export opportunities in crops such as cocoa, oil palm, cotton and groundnut alone.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Export-Import Bank, Mr Abubakar Bello, disclosed this while delivering a keynote address at a finance conference in Lagos.
He said, “It has been observed that Nigeria lost about $10bn export opportunities in crops like cocoa, oil palm, cotton and groundnut alone.
“In spite of the corrective measures over the years, the imbalance in our export trade has persisted with the non-oil sector now accounting for just about five per cent to seven per cent of Nigeria’s exports by value.”
Bello, who was represented by Head of Research, NEXIM, Mr Tayo Omidiji, spoke on the conference’s theme, ‘Unlocking opportunities in Nigeria’s non-oil sector.’
Bello mentioned that Nigeria’s non-oil export only accounts for just 13.17 per cent of Nigeria’s exports by value, from up to 97 per cent at independence.
He explained, “In the immediate post-independence period, non-oil exports, which were mainly agricultural commodities and solid minerals, made up 97 per cent of Nigeria’s exports.
“Crops like cocoa, cotton, palm oil, palm kernel, groundnut and rubber were major export commodities.
“However, between 1970 and 1974, non-oil exports dropped from 43 per cent to seven per cent due to rapid increase in the international oil price and Nigeria’s production.
“The ensuing Dutch Disease led to movement of resources out of the non-oil sector, contributing to its neglect and lack of investments in the erstwhile export sectors, particularly value-added export.”
Bello noted that Nigeria’s non-oil sector had been characterised by “systemic decline in the contribution of total exports to Gross Domestic Product, dropping from 31.44 per cent in 2012 to 18.44 per cent and 10.63 per cent in 2014 and 2015, respectively before rising to 13.17 cent in 2017.
“The figures from 2014 to 2017 have been below global average of exports to GDP of about 30 per cent, according to World Bank data.”
He added that the sector was also characterised by insignificant contribution of agricultural sub-sectors like shea, ginger, cassava, yam, sweet potato, cowpeas and pineapple to export revenues.
He noted that this happened despite Nigeria being “one of the highest producers of these commodities, according to data from the Food and Agricultural Organisation.”
Bello identified some of the challenges to the non-oil sector to include funding, policy constraints, operational issues, dearth of efficient multimodal logistics system as well as other issues around quality and standardisation.