The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) and the Delta State Government have commenced discussions on the possibility of re-activating the moribund Koko Port Free Trade Zone to attract investments and boost economic activities in the state.
The parties agreed to revamp the waned multi-billion-dollar project when Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, the NEPZA Managing Director led some officials of the Authority to pay a courtesy visit on the governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa on Thursday August 5, in Asaba.
Recall that the Koko free trade zone is located about 35 kilometers from the port city-Sapele, Warri North Local Government Area of the state.
The zone has a land allocation of 2,327 hectares with a sea port to be upgraded within the enclave.
Adesugba said the state should immediately set machinery in motion to commence the resuscitation of the zone, adding that the government must take the advantage of the zone’s location to attract investments.
According to him, the seemingly lack of interest on the zone scheme by most governors is responsible for the widespread lukewarm attitudes toward embracing the global economic model.
The NEPZA boss reiterated that the scheme was aimed at driving the country’s industrialization process, explaining that it was incumbent on the state governments to align with it.
Adesugba, therefore, expressed confidence in the possibility of the Koko port free trade zone becoming a mainstream business ecosystem in the South-South Region of the country if it was revived.
``Your Excellency, my team and I are here to encourage the state on the need to resuscitate the moribund Koko Port Free Trade Zone. We are on a mission to ensure that all non-active zones in the country are revived.
``The state has more to gain from this move because of the strategic location of the zone. Both the Warri Port and the Koko Port are nature gifts that the state must use to boost its economy.
``As a resourceful and dynamic governor, we are hopeful that you will commence and finish this project before the end of your tenure. NEPZA is prepared to provide the technical support to make this happen’’, Adesugba said.
Okowa, on his part, expressed delight on the intervention of the federal government to collaborate with the state to revamp the in-active Koko port free trade zone.
The governor said the new NEPZA leadership was providing development direction for economic growth in the country, adding that Delta state was prepared to cash-in on the scheme to expand its development frontiers.
He further said it was surprising to see that the zone in its present inactive state remained a popular location, adding that this popularity only served as indicator of its viability.
``We shall go on to resolve the disputes between the state and the consultants which have been the bane of this laudable project.
``I want to ensure that my administration is associated with the revitalisation of the zone. We want to be remembered for fixing Koko free trade zone’’, the governor said.
The governor also explained that it was the desire of the state for the Kwale Industrial Park with 1000 hectares and the Ogwashiku Agro-Allied Park occupying 300 hectares to be jointly upgraded to a free trade zone status.
In another development, Adesugba said the AHL Free Trade Zone, a private zone, also located in Kwale in Delta state had the capacity to significantly boost economic activities in the state.
He made the remark during a routine inspection of the zone on Friday, August 6.
The AHL zone, a world-class gas plant which secured Presidential license in 2020 has already installed about 40 per cent of its capacity making it one of the fast-growing zones in the country.
The NEPZA boss also stated that the gas plant would eventually help to reduce gas flaring in the country.