The Enugu Free Zone is showing growth prospect as it is expected to attract up to $500 million dollars (N240 billion) worth of foreign direct investments (FDI) from leading global manufacturing companies.
The facility is also going to generate 20,000 jobs following investment plan by stakeholders.
Investment groups are scheduled to gather for a ground breaking ceremony of the Enpower Free Trade Zone (ENPOWER FTZ), which is expected to drive investment around the facility.
The event is scheduled to be hosted by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on November 24.
Activities of the industrial clusters hosted in the free zone are also expected to create over 20,000 jobs across three major regions in the country.
Licensed by the Federal government to operate as a free trade zone in December, 2015, ENPOWER FTZ is a Public-Private initiative with the Enugu State government offering international and domestic investors the benefits of connecting to business opportunities from the South-Eastern cluster, which according to Canback & Company and the McKinsey Global Institute, is the second largest economic cluster in Nigeria, outside of the Lagos Cluster.
Governor Ugwuanyi and his government’s private project developers are positioning the free trade zone project as the biggest private sector investment support to the government’s economic recovery efforts.
Enpower is affiliated, as a full voting member; to the Dubai-based World Free Zones Organization (WorldFZO) and the Africa Free Zones Association (AFZA) respectively. It intends to function as a certified SMART-SUSTAINABLE & SAFE free trade zone.
The investment promoters intend to provide uninterrupted power supply via an embedded power arrangements, certify the free zone’s infrastructure and operations to globally accepted standards, operate the free trade zone as a one-stop investment destination by integrating all free zone operations with the documentation and cargo handling, customs, immigration administration processes to achieve an Ease of Doing Business rating equivalent to that of Dubai.
Besides, the ENPOWER FTZ is to host Africa’s first ever Nigeria-China “Dragon Market”, the second such manufacturing and wholesale centre, after the famous Dubai Dragon Market. Dragon Mart Dubai is the largest trading hub for Chinese products outside mainland China.
The industrial park also gives access to markets covered by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); South East Asian countries including China, India and Malaysia; the European Union including Czech Republic and Germany; and the untapped industrial heartland of South-Eastern Nigeria especially the commercial cities of Onitsha, Nnewi and Aba.
ENPOWER Free Zone is designed to accommodate up to 500 companies located in two Free Zone Areas at The Ninth Mile industrial area and the Akanu Ibiam international Airport.
The specialized industrial clusters to be developed within the free zone areas include the manufacturing Centre and whole-sale market; the Aviation and Aerospace Cluster; the Power, Utilities and Light Manufacturing Cluster; the Health Care Park; the Business and Hospitality Park; Technology and Digital Media Park; and the Chemicals and Agribusiness Cluster.
Through the North-East rail line, EMPOWER FTZ also offers export-processing opportunities for farmers and agro-allied producers in the northern part of the country to harness, upgrade and convert farm produce to finished goods.
Governor Ugwuanyi who consolidates on foundation efforts of former Governor Sullivan Chime on the project boasts that the ground breaking ceremony for the facility would bear the first set of investment fruits which will give highly needed momentum to his government’s economic diversification programme.
According to him, “Enpower FTZ has put in substantial efforts into attracting specific, targeted high-profile investors right from the outset. These anchor investors play an important signaling role to other potential investors, and we expect them to attract a network of suppliers and partners.”
The first set of investors with proposals for investment includes Air Stream Aviation Company which has committed to setting up a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility for all the services relating to assuring aircraft safety and airworthiness. MROs play an essential role in sustaining the world’s airline fleets. It is estimated that the global market for MRO is worth up to $50 billion.
Also, Ethiopian Airlines is committed to setting up a regional Air Cargo hub at the Akanu Ibiam airport to support operations of Enpower FTZ.
The airline is the largest airline in Africa and currently the only airline operating international flights into the Akanu Ibiam Airport.
Zetor Tractors has committed to set up an Agricultural tractors manufacturing/Assembly plant with an initial capacity of 3000 units per annum for both Nigerian and export markets.
Chairman of MDACI Marcel Dione, A Czech based investment consulting company, noted that the Zetor plant will manufacture tractor units and accessories for sale not just in Nigeria, but across their Sub-sahara African market.
He restated that his company is facilitating financing as well as technology-transfer through a hybrid manufacturing business model.
“Zetor joins a growing list of companies from Europe, India, China and the United States as well as local breweries and a major truck assembly plant, who have committed to locate their projects in the free zone project.”
According to Governor Ugwuanyi, “the collaboration between government and the private sectorin the Free Zone will not only benefit Enugu’s economy but provide a wider economic impact in the region.
He pointed out that the aspiration of the free trade zone is to leverage investment that would create jobs, enhance productivity and generate revenues for all stakeholders in the Nigerian economy.