Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Nigeria Now Rice Exporter, Says CBN Gov Emefiele 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said Nigeria has now become an exporter of rice following the impacts of its several policies and particularly its Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), even as it said it was working to boost the industrial capacity of the country.

CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, who disclosed this while speaking at a seminar for Finance Correspondents and Business Editors with the theme, “Policy Options for Economic Diversification: Thinking Outside the Crude Oil-Box”, on Saturday, noted that the ABP has reversed Nigeria from depending on importing rice to now exporting rice.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria, under my leadership, has taken major leaps to diversify the economy away from largely oil-based economy through our numerous interventions. We have supported non-oil sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, health care, education, power and aviation and other allied economic value chains.

“You may recall that our flagship Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) that heralded recent rice revolution in Nigeria has changed the long-standing dependence on imported rice as the country is not only depending on domestic production, but we have now become a rice exporting country. The Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) is a major special purpose vehicle to support commercial farmers in the country in different value chains including oil palm, cotton, cocoa, among others,” he said.

Emefiele, who was represented by the CBN Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, called for emphasis to be made by all arms and spheres of government to improve production and output to surpass population growth which is pegged at over three per cent per annum.

He stressed the need for a change in the narratives of depending on a mono-product oil-led economy, towards building a broad-based and well diversified economy that guarantees overall macroeconomic stability.

He said, “The quest for building a more sophisticated economy anchored on agriculture, MSMEs, industrial and manufacturing concerns have become the major component of our monetary policy. Nigeria has largely depended on the oil sector for revenue generation over the past four decades and the sustained decline in crude oil production has continued to negatively undermine the performance of the economy. Thus, there is the urgent need for a conscientious effort to diversify to other non-oil sectors.

“As I have often said, it is important that we work to create an economy that will enable us feed ourselves, create jobs for our teeming youths and improve the standard of living of our people. With our population growing by over three per cent per annum over the past seven years, against a less than steady growth in output since 2019, expanding the production and industrial capacity of the economy must be given special attention to ensure overall macroeconomic stability.”

On the apex bank’s policies directed at boosting local production and foreign earnings, Emefiele noted that the CBN’s continued support to the manufacturing sector and MSMEs have been yielding great results, noting that the intervention in the health sector, has begun to reduce the healthcare tourism being sought outside the country which is helping to conserve our foreign exchange and improve our well-being.

“The new 100 for 100 Policy on Production and Productivity (PPP), which is targeted at harnessing our local raw materials to increase our domestic production, as well as exports through our deliberate credit and other supports, will soon begin to yield quality results.

“Moreso, the RT200 FX initiative designed to take advantage of our large domestic production to other regional markets is targeted to increase foreign exchange inflows to the economy and support exchange rate stability. In addition, the on-going work at the Dangote Refinery, when fully completed, will stop fuel importation just as we witnessed in cement, sugar and fertilizer market,” he added.

He also noted that under the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020 – 2030), the industry was poised to accelerate the private sector-led efforts towards building a nation where digital innovation and entrepreneurship are used to create value and prosperity for all.

“Consequently, the Nigerian payment ecosystem has witnessed tremendous improvement over the years. To consolidate its efforts towards engendering a digital economy, the Bank deployed the eNaira, Africa’s first Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) in preparation for the payment landscape of the future, given the potential benefits that will accrue to a digital economy.

“The eNaira provides Nigerians with a cheap, generally accepted, safe and trusted means of payment and seeks to enhance financial inclusion, support poverty reduction, enable direct welfare disbursement to citizens, support a resilient payments ecosystem, improve availability and usability of central bank money, facilitate diaspora remittances, reduce the cost of processing cash, and reduce cost and improve efficiency of cross-border payment among others. Through the evolution of offline payments channels like agent networks, USSD, wearables, cards and near field communication technology, the eNaira would give access to financial services to underserved and unbanked segments of the population.

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