Mr. Gbenga Kuye, managing director, nepza, disclosed this during a press briefing with journalists in Abuja recently.
He explained that, so far nepza had attracted investment of about $9.4bn, apart from the recent $1billion investment by the General Electric in Calabar Free Trade Zone, adding that the organisation was reviewing its strategies to enable it play a catalytic role in the successful implementation of the federal government’s Industrial Revolution Plan.
Kuye said “Today, we have attracted about $9.4bon investment into all the free zones. This is without the $1billion investment that we got through General Electric in Calabar Free Trade Zone recently.
“However, for the next five years, we have a projection of attracting investment of about $15billion into all our free zones. I want to commend the foresight of Mr. Olusegun Aganga, the minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, for initiating the first-of-its-kind Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, which NEPZA has already keyed into.”
He added “But in order for us to make meaningful contribution towards industrialising the country, the first thing I want to do, with my team in NEPZA, is to ensure that majority of the recommendations of the Ministerial Committee set up by the minister to transform the Free Trade Zones across the country, are implemented.”
Kuye stated that NEPZA was vigorously reviewing the processes of granting approval and licences to free zones across the country, adding that mechanisms were being put in place to revamp or close down the free zones that were not economically viable.
According to him “the approach and process for granting free zone licences have changed. Now we are focusing on the value addition and economic viability of free zone in terms of job creation, wealth creation, skills acquisition and technology transfer.
“Currently, there are 25 free zones. Nine are fully operational, six are under construction and four are at design stages, while six are yet to take off. However, most of these free zones that are yet to take off are largely state-owned. One of the major reasons they have not taken off is due to the problem of change of leadership.”
He added: “This depends on if the leadership of a state considers free zones as the veritable tool for economic development or not. But what we are doing to revitalise the free zones that are yet to take off, is to identify senior staff of NEPZA who are from those zones, just as it is done in the banks, and make them play the leading role in the transformation of the free zones within their zones, but with clear targets on what they need to do.
“The intention is that if you are from a state, you take it as a special honour to ensure that your state is not left out in the scheme of things.”
He explained that the agency was carrying out an audit of all free zones across the country in order to determine the best measures that should be taken to achieve optimal performance.
He said “all over the world, free zones are veritable tools for economic development. So, along that line, we need to revive those free zones that are economically viable but are moribund. Simultaneously, there is an audit being done for the free zones and those that are not working will be closed down.
“As we speak now, there are seven free zone applications that are awaiting approval. They are currently going through the normal due diligence, and as soon as this goes through, we will give them the necessary approval.”
The managing director added “we are reviewing the process of appraising free zone applications in order to determine, from the outset, those that are serious and those that are not.”
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