The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has pledged to make the world a marketplace for Nigeria’s non-oil products. The Chief Executive Officer, NEPC, Dr Ezra Yakusak, said this on Friday during the commissioning of Lelook Bags Academy in Abuja.
He said Nigeria has a large portion of the youthful population, who were energetic, ingenious, skilful and ready to contribute to building a strong and prosperous economy, but pointed out that the major challenge was the low capacity to galvanise young people into productive ventures for economic development.
“The Nigerian Export Promotion Council will continue to sustain its interventions to SMEs and other relevant players in the non-oil export ecosystem in pursuit of our vision of making the world a marketplace for Nigerian non-oil products,” he noted.
He said Lelook Academy, which was set up to teach bag-making skills, especially to women, would bridge this skills gap by providing an opportunity for Nigerians to develop their capacity and bring on board, an innovative approach to the production of quality bags for the domestic market and most importantly for export.
Yakusak further said that the project was important to the NEPC because it was a testimony to how the agency’s interventions had built up and transformed a small business into an export-oriented firm.
“It is interesting to note that NEPC identified Lelook in its infancy. The Council invested immensely into it through participation in export readiness assessment sessions, product development and adaptation particularly in packaging and labelling under the NEPC -ITC -SheTrades programs.
“The lessons she learnt under these programs have enabled Lelook at brands and labels to successfully compete and break into niche export markets abroad. You may also need to know that Le look has been one of the SMEs that participated in NEPC’s spearheaded and sponsored trade fairs such as the Magic fair, New York Gift Fair, and Inter African Trade Fair in Egypt and South Africa and several other Match-making and business expos. Her labels were in high demand at the just concluded Expo 2020 Dubai.”
Nigeria earned $45.56bn from crude and non-oil in 2021, according to the National Bureau of Statistics’ Foreign Trade Statistics. But crude oil made up over 76.22 per cent of this amount, while the non-oil was 23.78 per cent.
However, much of the $34.72bn earned from crude oil went into refining the product abroad – due to the absence of refineries locally. Non-oil exports were around $10.836bn. Emerging markets such as India, Vietnam and Bangladesh have done much better.
The founder, Lelook Academy, Mrs Chinwe Florence Ezenwa, said the goal of the academy was to buy into the Federal Government’s target of diversifying the Nigerian economy and promoting the country’s non-oil exports.
“Having spent over 35 years in the sector, I am convinced on how to make a difference. Everywhere else, people talk about vocational skills, but here, we talk about bag-making skills specifically. We thought we needed to raise people, especially women, with skills, with Nigeria having signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.”
She said the academy had to set up Lelook Multipurpose Society to empower women who might not be able to get loans easily.