The Nigerian economy received about $46.6 billion in investment thanks to free trade zones.
Adesoji Adesugba, the managing director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, and Tijjani Kaura, his counterpart from the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, made these remarks on Wednesday in Abuja at the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Nigeria’s free trade zone program.
Since the 1992 launch of the program, trade zones governed by NEPZA have reportedly attracted over $30 billion in investments, according to Adesugba, while OGFZA has reportedly garnered $16.6 billion since 1996.
He said that the goal of accelerating economic expansion and industrialization was being achieved through the global business model.
He asserts that the Federal Government’s choice to adopt this idea has endured as folklore because it has contributed significantly to the growth of the American economy.
Adesugba, who predicted a brighter future for the free trade zones, said that the business hubs are home to over 600 businesses, which together provide 150,000 direct jobs and an estimated 400,000 indirect jobs.
He said, “To date, the zones have attracted over $30 billion investments, which is expected to exponentially increase in the next few years with our sustained incentives and aggressive investment drive across the world.
“The future is bright for the Free Trade Zone scheme in Nigeria.
“And again, we express our profound appreciation to the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for the approval given for the establishment of six Special Economic Zones and the earmarking of four international airports as Free Trade Zones in 2021.”
Adesugba promised that NEPZA would keep up its reforms to set the program up for international competitiveness.
He claims that the authority established the Special Economic Zones Dispute Resolution Center to serve as a neutral arbitrator in disputes between operators in the zones.
“NEPZA has also established a Special Economic Zones Security outfit to professionally secure lives and investments in the zones.
“More so, the Special Economic Zones Training Institute, Kano, will help bridge the knowledge gap in the free zones scheme.
“The authority also established an automated platform to digitise the operations of the scheme for enhanced efficiency and accountability,” he said.
According to Kaura, approximately 200 enterprises with investments totaling over 16.6 billion dollars were drawn to oil and gas free trade zones.
Kaura noted that the program generated over 200,000 direct and indirect jobs, promoting the growth of regional content.
Despite the successes thus far, he claimed that the plan has encountered some difficulties.