The Nigeria Competitiveness Project (NICOP)

The challenge

Exports are key in promoting sustainable and inclusive growth, creating decent jobs and fighting poverty in Nigeria. However, most non-oil sectors show a very weak competitiveness due to various challenges. Among these are unfriendly business environment for trade and investment, inefficient allocation of human and financial resources due to markets distortions, and limited competitiveness at firms’ level in terms of production processes, skills, technology, management, linkages and market access capabilities.

Furthermore, there is insufficient capacity and infrastructure to provide the critical services required and inadequate access to services for quality output, market and export development as well as access to finance. These factors lead to limited intra- and extra-regional trade and thus to overreliance on imports, thwarting the opportunities for entrepreneurial success, gainful employment, economic diversification and growth as well as poverty reduction and development.


German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), co-financed by the European Union (EU)

Ginger Nigeria

Implementation Period

August 2018 to July 2022

Implementation Area


Our Approach

The Nigeria Competitiveness project, NICOP, is a four-year project commissioned by the German BMZ and co-funded by the European Union under the West African Competitiveness envelope. It is being implemented by the GIZ Pro-Poor Growth and Promotion of Employment in Nigeria Programme- SEDIN. NICOP is designed to support key value chains in Nigeria to promote structural transformation, overcome the coordination and linkage failures and to improve access to regional and international markets while taking social and environmental concerns into account. NICOP will assist micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to take advantage of opportunities to add value and migrate to new and higher-level tasks along selected value chains.

NICOP aims at improving the performance, growth and contribution to industry, regional trade and exports of selected value chains and improve the climate for businesses at national and regional levels. This will be done through a four-tier approach. The project (1) Enhances the competitiveness at firms’ level, especially through work with industrial clusters, with a combination of market development as well as technical and entrepreneurial training and coaching approaches, (2) Strengthens intermediate organisations to improve and expand service delivery to MSMEs, for example with regards to  quality controls, norms and standards certification, new green solutions, market access, competitive pricing of inputs, access to technology and IT-based solutions, etc., (3) Supports advocacy and reforms of regional, federal and state-level policies and regulations in favour of industrial and agricultural competitiveness, and (4) Assists adapting and introducing appropriate financial services and supports value chain actors to access funds for investment, in particular with regard to modernizing and upgrading production capabilities.

NICOP’s work aims at forging strong and durable partnerships with key public and private stakeholders across focal states to ensure that buy in and commitment is secured, and the multiplying impacts of the programme will provide the required systemic and sustainable changes.

Where we work

NICOP focuses on key focal states, among them particularly Abia, Kano, Kaduna, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Plateau as well as other states across the selected value chains of Tomato and Pepper, Ginger, Leather and Garments.

Value chains and intervention areas

For the tomato, pepper and chilli value chains the focus is placed on processing and preservation. This includes production of tomato paste and sauces, drying and grinding of tomatoes and chillies, canning, chilli oil as well as other end-consumer products based on tomato and chillies. Considerable efforts will go into linking major large-scale processors with small-scale tomato farmers through empowering cooperatives and communities to forge lasting and fair business relationships in outgrowing and contract farming schemes, while improving quality and productivity through entrepreneurial training in Farmer Business Schools (FBS) and Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) trainings. In addition to such a market-led approach, the project will also support the introduction of innovative technology for artisanal and smaller-scale processing in a bottom-up approach in collaboration with cooperatives, NGOs and women’s groups. The certification of new products with the Standards Bureau of Nigeria and other organisations will access to formal domestic market, the option for exports to West African and international markets will be evaluated and market access will be facilitated if deemed feasible.

In the ginger value chain, the support focuses on mechanisation and improvement of seeds and good agricultural practices and entrepreneurial education to increase yields and productivity. The introduction of technology includes machines for soil preparation and harvesting as well as improved tools and machines for cutting and drying for higher quality dried ginger exports and production technology for other further processed ginger products such as ginger cake, ginger oleoresin (oil) and consumer products such as drinks. In addition to working with medium sized amalgamators and exporters, cooperatives will be assisted to also move up in the value chain and gain more direct market access.

For leather and garment, the focus is placed on finished leather goods (FLG) and finished garments. A focus is placed on entrepreneurial training and coaching. In addition, the project aims at improving the knowledge and ability to manufacture leather goods and garment with emphasis on rapid customization, mechanization, division of tasks, production at scale as well as assurance of uniform quality.
Improving the business environment by removing constraints and filling gaps in the regulatory and administrative support mechanisms is central to any comprehensive competitiveness strategy for the targeted value chains. NICOP will therefore look to address specific regulatory and policy constraints affecting all areas of the selected value chain at local, state and federal levels through a comprehensive policy and regulatory environment review, Public-Private Dialogues (PPD), support to private sector advocacy and technical support to implementation of reforms by the public sector. In addition to regulatory aspects, also the improvement and better access for public incentive schemes and support programs is an aim of NICOP’s policy and advocacy support.

Throughout the value chains adequate and suitable access to finance will be facilitated through work with private banks, microfinance banks, public banks and financing schemes as well as other forms of finance, including crowdfunding, Public-Private Partnerships and Investment promotion. These financing options will be customised for each financing requirements, from seeds, inputs, and farming technology to storage solutions, marketing and investment in processing and packing facilities. For each value chain additional opportunities will be considered such as the fostering of agricultural-based initiatives through investment (i.e. tomato paste processing, cold chain, innovation) and the improvement of ginger processing facilities to meet up with the international market standard. Access to finance for leather goods, garment manufacturers and tanning factories will be improved to allow them to fund the production cycle requirements.

Contact us:

The Nigeria Competitiveness Project (NICOP)

Contact Address:

20, Haile Selassie Street,

Asokoro, Abuja


Phone: +234 09062915512