Dr Olufemi Ogunyemi, the new Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has called for immediate commencement of infrastructure development in the Centenary Economic City Free Trade Zone, Abuja and the revamping of the Abuja Technology Village to position the Federal Capital City for economic growth and industrialization.
Dr Ogunyemi made the call on Wednesday in Abuja while delivering a paper titled: “ Free Trade Zones: Holy Grail to National Economic Growth and Development at the Abuja Investment Summit.
The NEPZA Chief Executive Officer, represented by Hajia Haleema Kamba, Director, Corporate Services said the two Free Trade Zones located in the FCT were a business ecosystem to catalyse the industrialization of the city.
“We understand the current hemorrhages and setbacks recorded by businesses; the Free Trade Zone ecosystem is no exception as we have many inactive or moribund Free Zones inclusive of the Abuja Technology Village (ATV) and the Centenary Economic City Free Trade Zone, both located along the Luge-Airport Road of the FCT.
“I am also of the view that the Idu Industrial Park could be effectively put to use to reflect the thinking of the ‘Renewed Hope Agenda’ of His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“The Authority is therefore, ready to partner with the FCT administration to revamp both the Abuja Technology Village and the Idu Industrial Park for global competitiveness, adding that the promoters of the Centenary Economic City Free Trade Zone must work hard to commence the development of the enclave without further delay,’’ Dr Ogunyemi said.
Dr Ogunyemi, who described the Free Trade Zone Scheme as a global business concept to fast-track economic growth and development, said the president had given him a strong mandate to use it to trigger industrialization across the country.
“The current thinking of the government is that NEPZA can become a more active driver of the economy by effectively using the scheme to attract the much-needed Foreign Direct Investment inflows, ‘’ he said.
Dr Ogunyemi further explained that the Authority was established in 1992 to assist the government in building a smart and industrialised country, adding that the new NEPZA management under his leadership would devote energy towards repositioning the free zone scheme for greater performance.
The NEPZA managing director, who made allusions to some remarkable milestones recorded by the 30 years existence of the scheme, described the business model to be one of the best global economic concepts that opened implausible business opportunities for countries that embraced it.
“For us in Nigeria, there are a total of 612 enterprises operating in the 52 Free Trade Zones at the moment with the following investment coverages in Manufacturing (45 per cent); Services (30 per cent); Oil & Gas (11 per cent); Trading (10 per cent); Logistic (30 per cent) and Agriculture (1 percent).
“These records, however, are testament to how far behind we are as a country in leveraging on the diverse opportunities afforded us by the scheme,’’ the NEPZA CEO said.
Dr Ogunyemi said that the country’s Free Trade Zone scheme which had some of the best incentives that could be offered globally must be seen as the easiest pathway to economic growth.
“I, therefore urge the 36 States Government and the Federal Capital Territory to embrace the scheme as it is the sure route to attracting investment and infrastructure financing,’’ Dr Ogunyemi said.