Lagos (INVESTADVOCATE)-Nigeria’s tier one lender, Fidelity Bank Plc said on Tuesday it has raised N30 billion to support the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and foresees an imminent growth in non-oil export, according to Nnamdi Okonkwo, managing director/chief executive officer of the Bank.
Okonkwo affirmed that the prospect in the non-oil sector is coming as more Nigerians; governments begin to wake up to the huge prospects inherent in agricultural and MSMEs.
The Fidelity CEO said this at a one-day workshop/training on exports organised by Koinonia Ventures Limited in conjunction with the bank and expressed high optimism that these sectors, if properly positioned could play significant roles in diversifying Nigeria’s monolithic economy.
According to him, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has predicted that Nigeria’s non-oil sector will generate about $100 billion in export earnings in the next 12 years.
“To assist export-oriented MSMEs raise their level of competitiveness in the global market, Fidelity Bank had raised N30 billion in corporate bonds on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE),” he added.
The Fidelity Bank CEO affirmed that the capital raising exercise is expected to enable the bank fulfill its promise to increase MSME lending to 50 percent by 2017, “Fidelity Bank has earmarked 80 percent of the net proceed of the bond to finance MSMEs which have been peddled as the next cash cow,” he affirmed.
Okonkwo, who was represented by Chijioke Ugochukwu, the Bank’s executive director, Shared Services & Products, said the lender’s renewed focus on MSMEs was driven by its growing role in the transformation of economies.
He noted that at no other time is the subject of import and export substitution more important than now when the country is grappling with a revenue crisis precipitated by the steep decline in crude oil prices and widespread corruption.
Olufemi Boyede, MD/CEO, Koinonia Ventures, speaking on ‘Turning Adversity to Prosperity: A Case for a Radical Repositioning of Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Sector’, said that the Nigerian economy can only make progress if local entrepreneurs become export-ready.
Boyede, commenting on the country’s competitive advantage, particularly as it relates to export trade, said Nigeria currently has over 5, 000 exportable products, explaining that about 21 of such products can be quickly harnessed for the benefit of the nation’s economy.
He alluded to the enormous successes of Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), he urged the federal government to create the much needed environment for Nigerian exporters to thrive. “The Barack Obama Administration has made it a top priority to improve the conditions that directly affect the private sector’s ability to export.”Boyede added.
According to him, the Nigerian government must ensure that trade barrier abroad are completely removed, stating that government at all levels must channel their energies towards helping firms of all sizes and farmers overcome hurdles of financing and access to new markets.
The Koinonia Ventures CEO applauded the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for establishing a N550 billion intervention fund aimed at upscaling Nigeria’s export performance, urging Fidelity Bank to help exporters take advantage of the facility.
Aisha Abubakar, minister of state, Industry Trade & Investment, in her keynote address at the training programme, said government is more than ever dogged in its quest to revive agriculture as an alternative to crude oil through better reforms, value chain/addition and discouragement of export of raw materials.
“There are a sizeable number of agricultural commodities grown in Nigeria that are quoted in the international commodities market and these include cocoa, palm oil, groundnut, Sesame seed, Shea Nuts, cotton and even fish,” she said.
In view of foregoing, Abubakar noted that the fundamental drawback to the growth of export is standardisation, explaining that Nigerian exporters are struggling to meet the quality requirements of their trading partners.
“Exporters must go further to add value to produce, package properly and then they will attract higher prices”, she added.
The workshop which had as its theme, ‘Key Trends & Opportunities in the Non-Oil Export Sector’, brought together subject matter experts, government agencies as well as private sector players in export business, to share knowledge and insights on the key trends and opportunities in the non-oil export sector.
Shares of Fidelity Bank at the close of today’s session on the Nigerian bourse climbed up 4.69 percent to N1.34 from N1.28 recorded the previous session; gaining 0.06 kobo per share.