The Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank, has pledged to assist Nigerian agro-exporters in facilitating the processes of export by providing the needed financial instrument.
NEXIM Managing Director, Mr Abba Bello made the pledge when he received Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Aviacargo Cargo Committee at the bank’s headquarters on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to Bello, the support is imperative toward increasing the volume of agro-produce export within Nigeria and to other international markets.
He further pledged that NEXIM Bank would collaborate with Aviacargo Committee to aid agro-exports and assist Nigerian air cargo airlines building capacity in export.
“It is heartbreaking to note that foreign airlines that fly into the country with cargo still depart empty while there are abundant products that could be exported from Nigeria.
“The bank is willing to assist Nigerian local carriers to build capacity in the area of agro-product export. Country’s domestic airlines can also look at expanding their operations to other countries to earn needed foreign exchange.
“We promote export of Nigerian produce commodities and even manufactured goods to global markets, such as regional and continental markets. That has become more emphasised with 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, “ he said.
NEXIM boss said the institute used different products for different kinds of trade and also did financing using currency (both local and foreign currencies).
According to him, the aim is that there should be finance for the exporters when they want to carry out their export.
“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.
“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, “ he said.
He stated that the bank would definitely addressed the issue of cargo planes coming into the country but leaving empty noting that there were cargo planes and nothing should stop Nigeria’s trade being done by air.
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 suggested that some of the airports in the country that were inactive with passenger traffic could be converted to cargo airports to be more commercially viable.
Bello said there was 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 of FAAN Commercial and Business Development, Mr Olumuyiwa Femi-Pearse said the agency was taking a holistic approach in engaging with all stakeholders to achieve sustainable development in the sector.
“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,” he said.
Also speaking, the Coordinator, Aviacargo Committee, Mr. Ikechi Uko, stated that the mandate of the committee was to come up with a workable process that would turn Nigeria into an Aviation export hub in West Africa and in Africa.
He said the country had a lot of produce for which it was ranked in the top 10 in Africa but had not been able to take advantage of it and exported to other markets.
According to him, 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,” he said.
According to him, the committee is also on a fact-finding visit to Abuja, Nassarawa and Jos Airports.
He said the visit would entail engagement with stakeholders to find out the challenges leading to the decline of Agro-Cargo export from the Food Basket of Nigeria.
He added that first port of call was the Abuja Airport Cargo Terminal.