Trade Zones : NEPZA attracts $346.6m, N360.7bn investments in 39 months

By Felix Khanoba

The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says it attracted $346.6 million Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and N360.7 billion local direct investments to the Nigerian economy through free trade zones in the country from 2020 to first quarter of 2023.

Managing Director of NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, made this known while giving an overview of his performance between 2020 and 2023 at a media parley with Commerce and Industry Correspondent Association of Nigeria (CICAN) on Monday in Abuja.

While saying a total sum of $18.49 million FDI was attracted in the first quarter of 2023, the NEPZA boss revealed that N9.18 billion was also injected into the nation’s economy as local investments in the same period through the trade zones.

Giving a further breakdown of his performance, Adesugba said that trade zones in the country generated 30,741 employment from 2020 to first quarter of 2023 , adding that skills transfer within the 39 months period was put at 8,157.

He, however, lamented that out of 55 free trade zones in the country, only 30 are functional while others are being refurbished or constructed for operations.

According to Adesugba, Nigeria can do more by providing enabling environment for trade zones to turn around the economic fortunes of the country.

“So far we have 541 enterprises operating in the free trade zones but we need to be more aggressive in making Nigeria’s free trade zones more enterprising as the target is to have at least 10,000 free trade zones. Ogun State and Delta State are already leading the way. This is very important because these zones not only serve Nigeria but also the African continent with over 70,000 jobs being created” he said.

Speaking further, he said NEPZA has approached the Central Bank of Nigeria with a proposal to have a bank administering the operations and transactions at the free trade zones, expressing optimism that the apex bank will approve the Authority’s proposal.

Adesugba also said efforts are also in top gear to drive a robust free trade zones operation in Nigeria by liaising with the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

“NEPZA is working with the Nigerian Stock Exchange to have speedy listing of companies of free trade zones on the stock exchange. All stakeholders have agreed and we are only waiting for the endorsement of the Federal Ministry of Justice. The plan is to have this achieved within the first 100 days of the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”

The AUTHORITY reports that the 55 Trade Zones in the country account for an estimated $35 billion combined investment profile.