The federal government has said that new industrial and automotive cluster zones would be established in various parts of the country to enhance rapid economic development.
The government is also targeting $68.1bn fresh Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from eight newly licensed free zones.
Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority Gbenga Kuye who made these disclosures said the enhanced efficiency of the agency has helped to fast-track approvals for zones, based on the new checklist and methodology put in place for assessing requests.
Kuye said the investments attracted already, and the incoming ones that had been sealed, will provide a solid foundation for a stronger economy and greatly improved standard of living for Nigerians, adding that the current administration should be commended for that.
He stated, “Based on the new checklist and methodology put in place for assessing Free Zone requests, the President approved the following: Centenary City Free Zone (Business and Tourism Destination), with expected investment of about $18bn; Ogogoro Industrial Park, Lagos (oil and gas activities) $160m; and the Nigeria International Commerce City, Lagos, (formerly Eko Atlantic City) $38bn.
“Others are: Badagry Creek Industrial Park, Lagos, $1.3bn; Nigeria Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Free Zone, $25.5m; Dangote Refinery/ Petrochemical Park, $9bn; Lekki Deep Sea Port (under Lagos Free Trade Zone) $1.4bn; and Samsung Heavy Industries and Mega Construction Integrated FZE (under LADOL Free Zone), $300m.”
The managing director added, “The Authority is currently at advanced stages for the approval of the proposed Kogi Industrial Park. We are also presently consulting with the Cross Rivers State Government on the establishment of an Automotive Industrial Cluster in the state.
“This is sequel to a bilateral relation agreement between Nigeria and Japan, where Japan has proposed to help develop an auto industrial cluster in Calabar. This is being done in conjunction with the National Automotive Council. Consultations are also ongoing for the revamping of the Idu Industrial Area located in Abuja.
According to experts, FDI can be defined as the inflow of capital or capital importation from Country ‘A’ to Country ‘B’ for the purpose of investment in Country ‘B’.
“The word Capital here is mainly in the form of plant and machinery or professional services (not physical cash) brought in from outside the country for the purpose of investment, which value can be placed upon and is quantifiable in monetary terms.”
Kuye noted that since his assumption of office in 2013, the Authority had undergone a massive transformation characterised by the restructuring of its organogram to reflect the new NEPZA, “which is to be driven largely by in-depth research and excellent investor relations.”
He said, “In order to complement the directives of the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment in putting in place a robust methodology for assessing investors’ applications for Free Zone status and a rigorous method of process engineering to enhance efficiency and productivity, we have been able to reduce the delays which usually characterised the operations of the Authority.
“A major characteristic of the old NEPZA was the frosty relationship the Authority had with other regulatory agencies. The feud, which had hitherto engulfed the management of NEPZA and some other agencies has been laid to rest while NEPZA staff are more equipped for their jobs than ever before with competitive staff welfare packages.”
He noted that the need to review the NEPZA Act CAP N107 LFN 2004 also became imperative as the Act hampered the full realisation of the Authority’s mandate and also hampered the Authority from taking its place as an industrialisation agency in line with the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan.
“In view of this, the Agency has embarked on the review of the Act which is currently at the National Assembly with a view to amending it and getting it passed as soon as possible.
The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment also acknowledged the achievements of the agency under this administration, saying the enhanced efficiency of the agency should be commended.
The Director, Investment in the ministry, Mr. Olayinka Olanipekun, representing the ministry on the board of NEPZA, said the Authority was contributing significantly to the growth of the Nigerian economy currently, and should be supported.