•Allege mismatch of crude earnings, imported refined products
Experts have called on the Federal Government to embrace value addition in the agriculture and mineral resources sectors, to promote the export of finished products from the country and simultaneously reduce imports.
Speaking during the second Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) Nigeria’s, virtual Economic and Business Conference, themed, “Turbo-charging Beneficiation and Value Addition, the Chief Executive Officer, RMB Nigeria, and Regional Head of West Africa, Michael Larbie, said beneficiation could transform Nigeria’s competitive advantage, increase economic growth, industrialization, and create jobs.
He said the webinar was geared towards helping Nigerian firms adapt to the ever-changing climate, and remain responsive in the face of the current economic challenges, as the pandemic has impacted businesses negatively.
In her remarks, Head, Coverage, RMB Nigeria, Ngover Ihyembe-Nwankwo, said as countries gradually remove restrictions to jump-start economic activities, there is widespread recognition that the pandemic would cause nations to reassess the status quo, where comparative advantage forms the basis of international trade, and move towards self-reliance and sustained surplus trade balances.
Ihyembe-Nwankwo said while the process of adding value to raw products pose some challenges in terms of infrastructural setup and investment, economic and social benefits are significant.
She noted that the COVID-19 crisis, paired with the fall in the price of crude oil, was a call for the country to innovate with the resources Nigerians have within reach.
Contributing, Chief Executive Officer, Agusto& Co, Yinka Adelekan, said although the economy is moderately diversified across various sectors, there was a need to significantly improve Nigeria’s fiscal position particularly in the areas of export earnings, beneficiation, and value addition across key sectors including agriculture and mining.
She maintained that Nigeria has several opportunities to refine raw products that are adding value to local producers, communities, and the economy at large.
Contributing the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Bank of Industry, Olukayode Pitan, urged Nigerian businesses to make the most of the internal resources, instead of exporting them as raw materials.
However, he said to achieve this, there were needs for skills, infrastructure, and access to finance, which absence are impediments to businesses thereby leading to inflation, high-interest rates on borrowings for capital projects, and some inconsistencies in policies.
He affirmed that aside providing single digit and long-tenured facilities, BOI is also committed to advocating policies that support Nigeria’s industrialization to create easier access to infrastructure for businesses, jobs, and promote inclusive growth.
On his part, the Chief Finance Officer, Waltersmith, Alex Osho, said there was a mismatch between the revenue from crude oil exports and the cost of importation of refined products and attendant pressure on the Naira.
He maintained that there have been leakages in the import and export supply chain over time, saying: “By refining locally and creating import substitution to support the regional market, Nigerian businesses can create a means of insulating themselves against the ups and downs of the global market.”
He added that it was time to break through boundaries and start working together to create solutions, and value addition are the bedrock for a thriving economic ecosystem.