The Nigeria Export Promotion Council ( NEPC) has disclosed that Nigeria is currently losing $12bn (N3.9tn) annually to informal or illegal non-oil exports.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, NEPC, Mr. Segun Awolowo, who made the disclosure said that Nigeria had lost $30bn in oil revenue between 2014 and 2015, adding that the loss was bound to increase this year following the recent cases of oil pipeline vandalism.

Speaking at the inauguration of the fifth session of the Zero to Export Initiative meant to train 80 exporters in the South-West in partnership with Fidelity Bank Plc, held in Lagos, he stated, “We need to focus on non-oil exports, especially after the International Trade Centre explained that Nigeria was losing more than $12bn annually to informal non-oil export trade through our porous borders. The economy is already diversified; it is just that you are not producing and that is why oil was the one giving Nigeria its revenue.

The zero to export programme, one of our initiatives, is one that simply trains selected individuals and company representatives who know nothing about exports in the basics of exporting non-oil products and guides them through starting until they become big exporters.

“The major challenge is not that we lack what to export; we have over 100 globally export-ready commodities; and these are even in their crude form; most of our items are still crude – shea butter, cashew, ginger, cables, steel, kernel and agricultural products – and there is still a capacity gap in the best global practices to make them export-worthy.”

Awolowo also said the council in recent times had been conducting export packaging clinics, which featured capacity building, packaging and labelling, and export processes information.

He advised would-be exporters to take advantage of the various training programmes.

He also urged women to take advantage of the She-trades programme offered by the ITC for women exporters under the council.

Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director/CEO of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, said Nigeria was at a crossroads and that export was a compulsory option, which the Central Bank of Nigeria had thrown its weight behind.

He said that Fidelity Bank appreciated the value chain of non-oil exporters and was offering support to exporters from production to processing down to the final stage.

Okonkwo added that the bank was partnering the Lagos Business School to train exporters to ensure that they would not make mistakes.

He also stated that Fidelity Bank was offering single-digit interest rate on loans for non-oil exports to encourage more entrants.