The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has disclosed that the development of Special Economic Zones in Nigeria to boost economic development also requires the political will to substantially enhance its funding.

This was disclosed by the Managing Director of NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, in a statement issued on Thursday, in Abuja, at the agency’s presentation of its 2022 budget at the National Assembly.

He cited the importance of improving infrastructure investments to improve operations of free trade zones and the need to work with the legislature to increase the development of Special Economic Zones in Nigeria.

What the NEPZA boss is saying

Adesugba said, “Infrastructure development in the zones is the ultimate attraction to this concept. We shall not be dissipating too much energy in promoting the concept if the right infrastructures are in place.

“China has about 3000 state-of-the-art free trade zones and has leveraged on them to transform its economy to an enviable form. This is indicative of the socio-economic possibilities embedded in this global concept.

“We need to, therefore, rethink our strategies to improve appropriation and funding of the free trade zones if the country truly aims at using it to accelerate economic growth.’’

He reiterated the need to work with the National Assembly to achieve maximum potential in the development of free trade zones and that what is, therefore, required is the political will to substantially enhance its funding.

Highlighting that failure to work with the National Assembly will make Nigeria finally become a dumping ground for goods and services from other African countries due to the current trade liberalisation regime allowed by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

“Nigeria must become competitive by being a producing nation as opposed to being a consuming nation,’’ he said

He added that the Free Trade Zone Scheme is a wonderful global economic model with the capacity to transform economies, but it is indeed a multi-billion-naira venture, citing that countries that are reaping from this model continually inject funds into it.

“I believe the time has come for the members of these committees to also embark on inspection of some private zones, in order to reshape their perspectives on the potentials of this great scheme to change the country’s economic landscape for the better,’’ Adesugba said.

In case you missed it

Nairametrics reported in September that NEPZA and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) have announced a partnership on investment flow to newly formed Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Nigeria.

The agencies announced that the partnership would cover SEZs in Lagos, Kwara and Katsina in the sectors of medical, agro-allied and cotton clusters, as the FG approved six SEZs in all geo-political zones, with expectation of complete development by 2022.