Nigeria's free trade zones attract $9.4b investment


The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says it has attracted about 9.4 billion dollars (N1.5 trillion) worth of investment to the country through the operation of its free trade zones.

The NEPZA Managing Director, Mr Olugbenga Kuye, stated this while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday about his plans and programmes for the agency.

Kuye said that the agency was putting mechanisms in place to increase the volume of investment to at least 15 billion dollars in the next five years.

He expressed the determination to use free zones as a veritable tool for economic development in the country.

“To date, we have 9.4 billion dollars investment in all the free zones in Nigeria. This is not including the one we just successfully got through General Electric.

“I believe we should be looking at investment in the sector to the tune of 15 billion dollars in the next five years,’’ he said.

Kuye said that his dream was to transform the agency from its regulatory role to an industrial agency.

He explained that out of the 25 free zones in the country, nine were fully operational, six were under construction, four in design stages and six zones were largely owned by the states.

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He said that the agency had mapped out four key sectors which would form its major focus in line with the planned industrialisation status.

“Specifically, we are focusing on four key sectors of agriculture, solid minerals, manufacturing, petroleum and petroleum products and other sectors like the housing sector.’’

He said that the agency had already commenced discussion with investors in Netherlands to set up agriculture parks in the country.

On his vision for the free zones, Kuye said “all over the world, free zones are being use as veritable tools for economic development. Along those lines, we will need to revive the moribund free zones in the country.’’

“Simultaneously, we are also carrying out audit of the free zones to identify their viability and those that are not working will be closed down.

“As we speak, we are working on seven free zones applications that are awaiting approval. They are going through normal due process,’’ Kuye said.

Kuye said that as soon as the various reforms, aimed at putting the free zones on the path of good business were concluded, all the enterprises that relocated to other countries would return.

“We also believe the gains of the power reforms would yield results and those who left as a result of lack of power would also return,’’ he said.

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