by Chris Agabi
The Nigerian Export-Import Bank, (NEXIM) has promised to assist Nigerian farmers and agro-exporters in facilitating exports by providing the needed financial support.
The Managing Director, NEXIM, Abba Bello made the commitment in Abuja during a visit of the Aviacargo Cargo Committee to the bank’s headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday.
The Aviacargo Road Map Committee is on a fact-finding visit to Abuja, Nasarawa, and Jos Airports.
The visit will entail engagement with stakeholders to find out the challenges leading to the decline of Agro-Cargo export from the Food Basket of Nigeria. Their first port of call was the Abuja Airport Cargo Terminal.
The NEXIM Bank MD said the bank is committed to increasing the volume of agro-produce exports within Nigeria and to other international markets.
Bello lamented that bottlenecks among the government agencies, has led to low contribution of Nigeria to cargo export in Africa.
He said that Nigeria with its arrays of resources should be among the leading exporting nations on the continent of Africa.
He said it is unacceptable that foreign airlines that fly into Nigeria with cargo still depart empty while there are abundant products that could be exported from Nigeria.
He said the bank is willing to assist Nigerian local carriers to build capacity in the area of agro-product export and also suggested that the country’s domestic airlines can also look at expanding their operations to other countries to earn the needed foreign exchange.
He said: “We promote the export of Nigerian produce commodities and even manufactured goods to global markets, such as the regional and continental markets. That has become more emphasized with the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Zone Area. Our promotion is not about finding markets or facilitating the trade of Nigerian commodities by doing trade fairs. Our role is to provide financing and financial instruments that will promote the export of Nigerian goods.
“So, we use different products for different kinds of trade. So, we also do financing using currency, both local and foreign currency. The aim is that when exporters want to do their export, there should be finance for them. That is the responsibility of NEXM bank. Beyond that we also have a small but important role of facilitating export, despite the fact that we are a bank, as a development bank, our job is not only to give finance, we also do other things that either promote positively or deal with the challenges to export” he said.
“We work with other agencies to try and bring down the barriers that impede our export or enhance things like standards, bringing certification and so on. We all know the story of cargo planes coming into the country and leaving empty. We feel sad by this situation because that is an area where we need to really, really improve” he promised.
Bello commended FAAN for the idea of trying to build a cargo village at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos but suggested that the same should be replicated in other parts of the country.
He noted some of the airports in the country that are inactive with passenger traffic can be converted to cargo airports and make them more commercially viable.
He said there is need to create a one-stop-shop for the export agro-product in the country with the involvement of all the relevant government agencies in the sector.
In his remark, the Director, Commercial and Business Development, FAAN, Olumuyiwa Femi-Pearse said the agency is taking a holistic approach in engaging with all stakeholders in ensuring that it does something that is sustainable for the country.
“We are looking at how we can make Nigeria the export hub of Africa and rightfully take its position in Africa as a super power. It is a long process and it is going to be difficult, it will take a lot of effort but once all stakeholders are aligned in the vision we have, collectively we can achieve what we want to achieve.”
Also speaking, the Coordinator, Aviacargo Committee, Mr. Ikechi Uko, stated that the mandate of the committee is to come up with a workable process that will turn Nigeria into an Aviation export hub in West Africa and in Africa.
He stated the country has a lot of produce for which it is ranked in the top 10 in Africa but has not been able to take advantage of it and export to other markets.
“Part of what we found out is that Nigeria is number five in aviarcargo in Africa, with the biggest economy and have the largest production of most things. We have a bigger airport than Kenya but Kenya is number one in Africa. They have a smart plan and they are implementing and executing that plan. The problem with Nigeria is not production. We have the airport and every other thing needed from the farm but the belly of the aircraft are still empty and that is a big problem we have to Solve.”