By Gertrude Onyekachukwu-Uteh
ASABA/Nigeria: STEP and YAGEP beneficiaries in Delta State have expressed their readiness to take advantage of the nonoil export initiative of the Federal Government in order to take their products into the international market.
This was the submission of some of the beneficiaries who participated at a one-day export workshop on capacity building for MSMEs and youths on nonoil export development organised by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in Asaba, the state capital.
The workshop tagged, “Export Awareness and Development”, was attended by major stakeholders, selected youth exporters and young entrepreneurs interested in the development of MSMEs and youths on nonoil export development in the state.
Responding on behalf of the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) beneficiaries, Chiweike Nwankwo, in fish production and processing, said that the workshop had exposed him to the proper way of exporting his products.
“I have been exporting through DHL with huge amount of money, thinking I have been doing the right thing, not knowing I was exporting my products illegally. The beautiful thing is that the workshop is an eye opener to me because when I register with the NEPC, I can export my products legally and get paid by the government for exporting my products”, he pointed out.
Also speaking, a beneficiary of the Skills Training Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP), Afakwu Ifeyinwa, noted that the training was an opportunity for her to move her business to a higher level, adding that the training was an added knowledge to help her to begin exportation business and to introduce her products into the global market.
Declaring the workshop open, the Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Honourable Chika Ossai, explained that one of the strategies of the present administration was the promotion of MSMEs through export development to enhance economic growth.
He affirmed that Nigeria had the largest economy in Africa and produced a wide range of goods, such as cocoa, palm oil, cotton ,among others for the economies of Africa, calling for the need to introduce more goods into the international market and to deemphasize total dependence on the oil sector.
Represented by the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr Pat Isichei, the commissioner noted that the only way out of total dependence on oil was to develop products at global competitive prices and to market the products to meet international standard in the global markets.
On his part, the Chief Job and Wealth Creation Officer of the Delta State Job and Wealth Creation Bureau, Prof Eric Eboh, who was represented by the STEP Programme Coordinator, Mr. Onyeisi Nkenchor, said that the workshop was geared towards personal development of STEP/YAGEP beneficiaries present at the event.
He disclosed that the state government had what was called “multi-production lines” for the nurturing of youth entrepreneurs, adding that the workshop would help the participants to gain knowledge on how to export their products.
While commending the organisers of the workshop, he noted that the STEP/YAGEP beneficiaries present at the workshop were a very small percentage of the number of beneficiaries the state government had trained and empowered in the past five years.
Earlier, the Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Olusegu Awolowo, who was represented by Mr. Peter Njoku stated that the programme would help promote economic development and wealth creation opportunities for youths and MSMEs in the state.
According to him, “The zero oil plan is to create 500,000 additional export based jobs annually and to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty through export activities.”