THE Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate the first West African Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (WAMSME) Export Opportunities Exhibition.
The Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Ezra Yakusak, described the MoU as a strategic collaboration aimed at enhancing the visibility of Made-in-Nigeria goods and services within West Africa and the rest of the market.
“Considering the current economic reality of the country occasioned by dwindling price of oil in the global market, there is no auspicious time than now to aggressively promote the non-oil sector more as a way of salvaging our nation’s ailing economy.
“We are all aware of the fact that these are, indeed, not the best of times for local industries in our country. We at the NEPC firmly believe that if we are serious about the diversification of the economy, one vital approach would be to support the existing SMEs and assist in reviving local ailing industries. The time has come for us to encourage the development of local industries, promote patronage for locally made products and also create international market access for them.
“It is also pertinent to note here that Nigeria is a huge market and a trade hub that cannot be ignored by the international business community and investors. Therefore, Nigeria MSMEs should also take advantage of every available step to package their products in line with international standard and take advantage of every global platform to showcase such products to boost their acceptability worldwide,” Yakusak said.
The NEPC CEO expressed optimism that the initiative would help in flooding the West African and African market at large with quality Made-in-Nigeria products and, in turn, increase foreign exchange inflow into the Nigerian economy.
“This has become necessary in view of the take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. We cannot fold our arms and wait until our market is taken over by foreign products before penetrating their markets with our products. We must leverage on our comparative advantage of Made-in-Nigeria products in the African market, especially the West African region,” he added.
The Director-General of SMEDAN, Wale Fasanya, said the collaboration, which was the first of its kind, had the vision of going beyond the West African market to infiltrate the global market.
“As an agency that facilitates the development of MSMEs in Nigeria, we will ensure the implementation of this MOU in driving the export of Made-in-Nigeria goods by supporting them with the necessary information and logistics they require,” Fasanya said.
Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.