Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said Nigeria must move towards more value addition to its resources by expanding its manufacturing scale.
According to her, more manufacturing of the country’s abundant raw materials will lead to more creation of jobs which will reduce the exportation of jobs that should benefit the army of unemployed Nigerians.
Okonjo-Iweala made the comments on Monday just as the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose from 27.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 to 33.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, meaning that over 23 million Nigerians are currently unemployed.
The WTO chief spoke while briefing the press after meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in Aso Villa, Abuja.
The former finance minister is on her first working visit to Nigeria after she resumed office as WTO chief on March, 1, 2021, breaking a 26-year record to emerge the first African and first female director-general of the global trade and settlement body.
She said, “We have to start moving towards more manufacturing. We have to start looking towards adding more value to the products we now have. Why is that important? This is so that we can create more jobs and trade more. You can trade more if you produce more and add more value. Let’s not export our jobs to the outside.
“In agriculture, I gave Mr President the example of shea butter and sesame seed. Nigeria is one of the largest producers in the world and you know these are used for cosmetics.
“So, the WTO, together with the international trade centre, came here to work with women and men in a cooperative –Ifedapo Cooperative in Saki, Oyo State — to try improve the quality of their products.
“We were producing this but we could not access the US or European market because the quality of our products was not good enough but by working with the WTO, they will be able to improve the quality of the shea butter that was being produced, for example, get NAFDAC approval and registration which also open the door for them to be able to export some of these products and sell domestically to cosmetics and manufacturers.”