The Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says 13 Free Trade Zones have been licensed so far by the President Mohammadu Buhari Administration.
The Managing Director, NEPZA, Adesoji Adesugba, who made this known at a conference held to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Free Trade Zones scheme in Nigeria, said the support of the present administration has led to the scheme being adopted as the policy thrust for economic growth, development and prosperity.
Adesugba affirmed that till date the Zones have attracted over US$30 billion dollars worth of investments which is expected to increase in the next few years with sustained incentives and aggressive investment drive.
According to the NEPZA MD, the zones have further birthed business enclaves harbour of over 600 enterprises, providing 150,000 direct employment and an estimated 400,000 indirect employment across the world.
“The presence of key global enterprises in the Zones is a testament to this assertion in speedily contributing to the growth of the Nigerian economy” Adedugba noted.
He expressed optimism about the future for the Free Trade Zone scheme in Nigeria with the approval for the establishment of six Special Economic Zones and the earmarking of four International Airports as Free Trade Zones in 2021 by Mr. President.
Adesugba said since he assumed office on 1st July, 2020, he galvanized the management and staff to adopt strategies to reposition the agency for efficient and effective service delivery.
This he noted is made evident in a number of reforms initiated to position the scheme for global competitiveness.
“In the last 30 years, the scheme is operating under robust fiscal incentives as enunciated in the enabling Act” he said.
The NEPZA Boss posited that the Authority was developing notable strategic alliances as follows which includes: Acceptance by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to fully implement the Free duty incentives regarding Imports and Exports by Free Zones’ Enterprises into the customs territory, A Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on administration of taxes in the Zones as well as Regulatory Guidelines for Banking operations in the Free Zones in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In his welcome remarks the Chief Executive Officer of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA), Tijani Kaura,
said despite the huge challenges, the Free Zone scheme has recorded significant milestones within the last thirty years.
Kaura noted that the oil and gas free zone has tremendously contributed to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Income, in an unprecedented manner as it has attracted over 200 Companies with over $16.6 billion and created over 200,000 direct and indirect jobs between 1996 and 2022.
He however lamented that the scheme in Nigeria still lags in delivering key economic developmental indices compared to what has been attained by Free Zone schemes in other locations.
He further emphasized that the conference will afford stakeholders the opportunity to deliberate and interact on ways to evolve a sustainable strategic and perspective roadmap that will enhance the development and attractiveness of scheme in Africa.
“This conference offers us an opportunity to evaluate the status of the Free Zones Scheme, assess our performance since inception, and examine how we have evolved, then deliberate and collectively chart a growth-oriented approach to improving the scheme.
“The scheme has been used to boost economies of nations around the globe, while depleting African resources. We hope to change the tide and narrative in the spirit of shared prosperity, by harnessing the enormous human, intellectual and natural resource capacities that Africa is endowed with”.
He called for more partnerships to develop the enormous potentials inherent in the mid and downstream sectors in line with the nation’s national development plan.