International Market:  Okonjo-Iweala Lambasts African Exporters For Producing Low Quality Their Products;Urges Them To Improve

 By Stephen Ubanna

For years , past and present Management of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, and the Nigerian Exports Promotion Council, NEPC, under the close watch of  Mrs. Nonye Ayeni, could  eat their chest that they had handled the export of millions of tons  of Litum ore, manganese ore, cashew nuts , Shea nuts,  cocoa butter, cocoa beans,sSesame seeds  and rubber to the North American country of the United States, United Kingdom, Netherland, France, Spain, Germany, China and other trading partners  across the global economy in  worth billions of naira.

Given the huge export of such non -oil  products handled  by the various Customs Formations and NEPC, at the nation’s sea[pots and Land border Areas   may have  informed why  Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and  then Comptroller General  of the NCS,  resuscitated the once- moribund Lilipond  terminal now  designated for export cargo  in 2022.

 The existence of the  Lilipond export Command, has not stopped stopped the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tin Can Island and the south eastern port of Onne, Rivers state, the Rivers  port , under the jurisdictions of  Port Harcourt Area I, Command,  Sokoto/amfara  and Katsina Commands including Kebbi and Seme from handling export cargoes.

 Between January and February, 2024, for instance, Comppt. Timi Bomodi, Area Controller, Seme Command, the busiest Land border station in the African Continent had said that’’ the Command handled 65 metric tons of cargo exports, and  collected over N1.1 billion from such exports which was said to have been into the Federation Account .

The question on the lips of most people: what was the quality standard of the products being exported from Nigeria to its trading partners across the globe.  Although before any export cargo  was allowed to eave the nation’s seaports or Lad border areas to the oversea Customers,   the exporters were made  to produce   exporter’s certificate obtained from NEPC,  export contact document,  Quality Assurance documents,  Commercial documents,  financial documents and  Good Movements documents to ascertain the quality of the product  that it met international standard..

    Despite sighting these documents by  Customs  and other relevant  government agencies personnel  at the nation’s seaports and Land border Aras  to allow such  commodities to pass  the ports and border areas, without any hinderance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration and now Director General,  World Trade Organisation, WTO, based in Geneva, Switzerland,  may have shocked Nigerians with her recent remarks in  Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

 The WTO Director General had said that the  shea nut exports and other Agricultural   Commodities exported  from  Nigeria, Benin Republic, Burkina Faoso,  Coted’Ivoire,  Ghana, Mali and Togo, to name but a few, could not compete with the  exports from the US, UK,  France, Germany , and the Asian countries of China, Japan or South Korea.

The former Nigerian minister of Finance who was said to have taken advantage of the Shea Annual Conference in FCT, Nigeria, to speak out had said that for African Leaders to look at the  shea value chain  beyond farming and processing for butter , the licensed exporters must ensure that the quality of their products meet international standard. 

The WTO, Director General, who could not hide her feelings had revealed that she had used her position since she assumed duties in 2021, in assisting Nigerian and the other African countries Shea exporters particular, so that the products would positively impact on the economy of the African countries.

Her worry was that the African countries produced shea for export do not meet ‘’the sanitary and phytosanitary measures required in the international market’’, noting that this has hindered many African countries from being unable to export.

Appealing to the African exporters who has been granted License by their respective countries export promotion Councils, the WTO, Director General, would want them to improve the quality of their exports, to be able to compete with the oversea exporters.

Shea butter unrefined

 According to the former Nigerian minister of Finance, the Shea butter market which is currently valued at about at about $600 million US, dollars is expected to hit the $850 million bracket because of the high demand for the product by 2027.  She would want the African women who are mostly involved in the business to benefit from the trade and not to completely lose out to the foreign exporters of the product in the international Commodities market.

  The WTO boss had alluded to the meeting with the Leadership of Shea cooperatives in Oyo state, south west Nigeria,  in an  event organized by the NEPC, which was said to have  paved the way for NEPC and the International Trade Centre to work  together  to rebuild the capacity  of the  cooperative society   to produce  high  quality  Shea butter  that was to have net  international  safety and quality standards.

She had remarked  that the  Oyo Shea Cooperative Society which  had once been prevented from exporting its product because of low quality standard  but with the work done by all the relevant agencies , the members have received  the international Certification  which now allows them to export to the US,  UK,  Middle East and South Africa with ease. 

Mrs. Ayeni: CEO, NEPC

Ayeni, the Chief Executive officer, CEO, of NEPC, had said that the agency has every reason to improve on the quality of the Shea products produced   Nigeria because the country is a major producer of the Shea commodity globally.

Taking a cursory look  at the global  value  of Shea production  and export   in 2023, alone,  he had asserted that  the production and value of the product  along the value chain  in the international market was US, $2.1 billion, stressing that it is expected  to grow  at a compound annual rate of  7.1% by 2030, representing the sum  of about US,  $6 billion.

He had said that the global  market  share  for chocolate from she product  alone,  was about  $13.6  of the US , dollars  in 2021  and expected to hit the US $156.4 billion  in 2030. He noted that Asian countries like India, Japan and South Korea,    are already improving the use of Shea butter as cocoa butter equivalent, Leading importers of Shea butter before pushing the product   into the international Markets.

There is no gain saying the fact that in a bid to make Nigerian export Commodities  competitive in the  global market,  the NEPC, Authorities had  developed facilities such as   the Export Development Fund   and Export Expansion Grant   to  help generate global market , train, involve in export   trade fair  participation  support, financial and logistics support as well as improve on  the country’s  export volumes  and  the global representatives  of the country’s products.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *