12 October 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, on Tuesday announced that it will set up a N2.5 billion export development fund in conjunction with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, NEXIM.
NDDC Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Ekere, who said this when a delegation from NEXIM Bank visited the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, added that the interventionist agency need to leverage on NEXIM Bank to tackle the challenges of creating jobs and building sustainable development programmes.
Ekere said the Commission had built a lot of infrastructure but must also develop the human capital in the region, to curb a situation where youths of the Niger Delta were often left without hope.
He noted that the Niger Delta region had over the years provided a greater percentage of the revenue sustaining the country.
“That is why we are going to partner with NEXIM Bank to develop a regional export market which provide new opportunities for our people,We need to give the youths hope through providing opportunities for them.
“There is no better place than the Niger Delta to prepare for the diversification of the country’s economy. Now that revenue from oil has started dwindling, this is the right time to begin to create opportunities for the people in the non-oil sector.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer assured that the Commission would set up a technical team to work out the modalities for setting up hubs for regional exports in the Niger Delta.
He said that the Commission had entered into agreements with several international and local partners, noting that the collaboration with NEXIM Bank would be an addition to the existing ones.
“The region is blessed with a lot of agricultural products that can be developed for export. We have rubber, palm oil, cashew nuts, shrimps that can be developed to keep the youths gainfully employed as well as generating foreign exchange for the country.”
For her part, the Executive Director, Business Development of NEXIM Bank, Mrs. Stella Okotete, stressed the important of building a platform for viable export markets for the Niger delta region, adding that there was need to create awareness for a regional export initiative.
Okotete said that the Federal Government had a deliberate policy to encourage the non-oil exports, especially in agriculture and solid minerals, and affirmed the commitment of NEXIM Bank to increasing the flow to the non-oil export basket and promoting export initiatives at regional levels,
She stated: “We need to scale up credit to the non-oil sector and that is why we are seeking collaboration with NDDC to drive the process.
“we need to improve on value-added exports, instead of just dealing on primary agricultural produce. This will enhance capacity development in specific export produce.”
In his presentation, the Technical Adviser to the NEXIM Bank Managing Director, Mr. Hope Youngo, identified some areas where the bank was ready to partner to drive export. He listed agricultural products such as palm oil, rubber, cocoa and solid minerals like limestone.
He said that a focus on rubber, for instance, would help to bring back the tyre factories, which would create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths. He added: “We are proposing schemes in the areas where the Niger Delta has comparative and competitive advantage.”