BusinessDay

Nigeria’s strength should now be in non-oil export –Temidayo

...As export institute director urges importers to explore FG’s ‘E for I’ window

Nigeria’s strength should be in non-oil export, so declared the former Coordinator of the University of Port Harcourt Business School, Eniola Yemi Temidayo.

Temidayo of the Entrepreneurship & Management Department of the UNIPORT and an Innovation and Enterprise consultant, made the eye-opener at the Investitures ceremony and unveiling of the warehouse/export laboratory of the Institute of Export Operations and Management (IEOM) in Port Harcourt at the weekend.

The expert said Nigeria is abundant in raw materials and export potentials, saying the nation has no business importing anything.

He said Tantalite needed to build aircraft parts is surplus in Kogi State while dolomite used in making tablets and tiles is found in Oyo; the brightest in the world.

Temidayo, who said he has passion for business growth, said he worked for many years in a company involved in export and businesses where he rose to the position of General Manager before he went to lecturing job, added that he has been mentoring youths in the Niger Delta to go into entrepreneurship.

He turned to clearing agents that flooded the event to go into export to broaden their base. He told them to use export proceeds to do import.

He said opportunities in Nigeria are massive. “Plantain sells for $2,400 per ton in the international market, and Nigeria is the second highest producer. Yet, our business people are not exporting, despite consuming a mere 18 per cent of what they produce. The rest is rotten or wasted.’

He said most Nigerians do not know that no part of plantain is a waste. “When they ripe and become black, we throw them away, but Chile uses that one to produce drinks (and some other things) and export it. The back or peel is used in India drugs and food for diabetic patients.

“Nigerian importers must move to export or backward integration. If import agents do not boost export, they will soon decline as foreign exchange currency to import recedes.

“The first important thing is to train (that is where the Institute of Export Operations and Management comes in, especially here in the Niger Delta).”

He said he learnt the hard way and lost a container for export because he did not do the right thing. “Now, knowledge has increased, knowledge has come. The Uniport Business School now partners with the IEOM to make teaching of export entrepreneurship practical.”

He went on: “The truth is that Nigeria’s strength is rather in export. The problem is ability to create awareness and to identify the products, the processing, and the countries that need the items, plus a robust bureaucratic system to promote it and make export processes easy and seamless.”

The consultant warned business people to think twice before venturing into property business, saying many other areas fetch returns faster.

Read also: NAHCO, NEPC partner to boost non-oil earnings with export processing centres

In his welcome remarks, the Executive Secretary/CEO of the Institute, Ofon Udofia, joined in the call for importers to join export business. “It is called Export for Import (E for I). Use export to raise forex to import.

“The FG has approved the system. There are importers who have huge sums trapped in banks waiting for allocation of Dollars to fund their letters of credit to import. If they had generated forex through export, all they needed was to use the proceeds to fund the import.”

Throwing some light on the critical relevance of the IEOM, Udofia the Institute is located in the Niger Delta, and its presence both relevant is critical. “Our determination is to use trade to fight foreign exchange crisis bedeviling Nigeria. It is also to create jobs through export because an importing nation is one exporting jobs.”

Udofia said any nation not exporting is ready for doom, and that Nigeria is in trouble in this direction. “SMEs are the engine of any economy. Attention should be focused on small businesses. The FG seems not to care.”

He harped on many challenges that face the SMEs, power being one of them.

He announced that the Institute has thus set up a centre to help SMEs join the export market by having a standard place of packaging and a lab to ensure continuous testing of processes till product leaves for the port. Correct labelling especially barcode aspect is very important in export business.

“Our lab is able to handle all this. Barcode helps in traceability, which is important in international trade. The international standard is that every product should be made to comply with traceability rules so that if any product is faulty, it can be traced to the very factory of origin. If you don’t trace the faulty one, all such products from that country or that factory could be banned.”

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