By Akanimo Sampson
Industry, Trade and Investment Minister, Niyi Adebayo, has kick-started the Federal Government’s N50 billion Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP) to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on non-oil export business.
The first on-line grant management portal for non-oil exports has also taken off with its launch at the Export House, Abuja.
EEFP is part of the government’s N2.3 trillion fund of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan. The EEFP focuses on safeguarding jobs and creating new ones. The EEFP’s primary goal is to increase Nigeria’s export capacity in the near term and export volumes in the medium term.
Adebayo was joined by the Minister of State in the Ministry, Mrs. Mariam Yalwaji Katagum, Chairman of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Governing Board, Senator Ibrahim Musa, members of the Export Expansion Facility Steering Committee, members of the Export Development Fund Board of Trustees and the NEPC Governing Board Chairman, Senator Musa Ibrahim and their host, the Executive Director /CEO, of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo.
During his keynote address, Adebayo who chairs the 11-man Steering Committee implementing the EEFP said: “The ultimate aim of the EEFP as an intervention following the devastating economic effects of COVID -19 to exporters and MSMEs in Nigeria will be to save jobs, create jobs, support resilience in shoring up foreign exchange, diversification, modernisation of Nigeria’s economy and acceleration of economic growth and economic support”.
For Awolowo, “as we launch the EDF, we will apply the use of technology through the Grant Management Portal which ‘Goes live’ today so that we will be equalising opportunities to achieve inclusive economic growth through non-oil exports.
‘’The Export Development Fund is a pre-shipment incentive stipulated in the NEPC Act, which, due to lack of funds was never activated. We were however glad by the provision of the Export Expansion Facility which provided the opportunity for us to finally activate the Fund for our teeming SME exporting companies, who over the years have been unable to access the active Export Expansion Grant, which is a post-shipment incentive.
‘’We are confident that through this facility, we will save jobs and create jobs as we work towards moving us from #Pandemic2Prosperity.”
The first on-line Grant Management Portal for non-oil exports in Nigeria is supported by the EEFP and all applications for the Export Development Fund (EDF) will be processed through the System.
The portal will be for exporters to register for grants as direct intervention from the Federal Government with the objective of providing financial assistance to exporting companies to cover part of their initial expenses with respect to export promotion activities.
Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, who is also the Chairman of NEC National Committee on Export Promotion, described the EDF launch as ‘long awaited’ and congratulated the Federal Government for the emphasis on non-oil exports.
Amb. Mariam Yalwaji Katagun said ‘’we are confident the Export Expansion track will go on to impact the export-related small businesses even more. We must ensure that small businesses within the export-related sector benefit from the scheme in great numbers as this is the core objective of Mr. President’s approval of the scheme. ‘’
Segun Ajayi Kadiri, maintained that the provision of funds for the takeoff of the EDF, as provided in the EEFP, could not have come at a better time.