NEPC tasks exporters, SMEs on access to AU’s procurement network

NEPC tasks exporters, SMEs on access to AU’s procurement network
Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Olusegun Awolowo

Worried about the nation’s inability to benefit from the procurement programmes, despite being a key member of African Union (AU), the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), has tasked exporters and entrepreneurs on the need to build capacity, and key into the continent’s procurement network.

Indeed, the Council said the move will not only encourage growth in the private sector and improvements in its operations, but would also contribute to capacity building.

The Executive Director, NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, at a training workshop on the African Union Procurement System, said it was as a result of the nation being unable to access some of these benefits that the council is organising the capacity building workshop to mobilize Nigerian companies and entrepreneurs to register and join the AU procurement network.

Represented by the Director, International Export Office, Mrs. Uduak Etokowoh, he said the AU laws set out minimum harmonised public procurement rules to create a level playing field for all businesses, and these rules organise the way public authorities and certain utility operators purchase goods, works and services.

He noted that procurement strategies must be transparent, fair and competitive across the AU market, stressing that this generates business opportunities and drives economic growth.

He continued, “Moreover, it will contribute in some ways to create jobs and open further opportunities for individuals and businesses in the continent.

“The need to mobilise registered companies from Nigeria to join the AU procurement network cannot be overemphasised, this is because any procurement successfully executed would be termed as export from Nigeria.”

He explained that the move would also create a new platform for Nigeria’s registered exporters to come up on board, and increase their international exposure in addition to increasing the foreign exchange earnings of the country especially now that the economy is dwindling.

He said the objective of the workshop, which held in Enugu, Lagos, and Kano was to create awareness of the AU Procurement System and requirements, mobilise the registered companies to be part of the AU procurement network, and enlighten exporters on the requirements for joining the network to increase international exposure and access to new markets.

Also speaking, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management of Nigeria, and Lead Consultant of the workshop, Abdul Mamman, said if indigenous businesses participate in the AU procurement system, it would earn the country foreign exchange, and would also give Nigerian entrepreneurs to take their products outside the shores of the country.

He added that under the programme, the activities of the Nigerian entrepreneurs will be known; they would be open to new development of goods and services, while also creating employment opportunities.

“Lagos State is one of the promising states concerning the utilisation of procurement law. A procurement law has a general principle that permeates every strata of procurement practices in the world. So those general principles such as fairness, accountability, competition as well as ethical standards permeate through every procurement laws across every government, and by so doing, it will not be hard for them to scale up their capacities and capabilities to do what they know how to do.”

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