Nigeria’s federal government has approved the expansion of the existing Free Trade Zones (FTZs), as well as the activation of existing ones to respond to the demands of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Managing Director, Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, who disclosed this Wednesday, further identified the new economic zones to include Funtua FTZ Katsina for textile and cotton, Lagos FTZ for medical, as well as Kwara for agriculture.
Speaking while receiving the leadership of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA), led by Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu in his office, Adesugba said the move seeks to boost the industrialisation agenda of the present administration.
He said while there are several planned and ongoing strategies targeted at achieving this goal, a major strategy is the creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) model of global best practice and provide an enabling environment for business in technology, agriculture, medical and mining.
According to him, four of the six approved SEZs namely, Lekki and Ilorin zones, will be developed into model zones, adding that the Funta, Katsina and Gombe SEZs will also commence preliminary studies.
The NEPZA MD said it is collaborating with several state governments, including Lagos and Taraba in the development of their FTZ landscapes to support the states’ agenda of providing an enabling environment for increased investments to boost their economic development.
He noted that following Nigeria’s ratification of the AfCFTA late last year, NEPZA is seeking to leverage on its opportunities to service the African market by increasing exports.
He said: “Accordingly, the goal of the AfCFTA resonates strongly with the aims and objectives of SEZ in promoting trade and services which is why NEPZA is currently repositioning its SEZ strategy to support the agreement.
“The authority is implementing this by focusing its investment facilitation and capacity expansion on goods and services that the country has high comparative advantages.”
He added that there are several additional ongoing reforms aimed at improving efficiency of the zones and boosting exports.
In a statement by the Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA, Mr. Martins Odeh, Adesugba however described the SEZs as a tool towards industrialisation, adding that the determination of government to develop the special zones was pursuant to the strategic plan of accelerating the country’s industrialisation programme through job creation and exports promotion.