Minister, Industry, Trade and Investment Otunba Niyi Adebayo has directed that the validity period of licenses for operators in free trade zone areas be increased to 5 years.
He gave the directive at a stakeholders forum organised by the Nigeria Economic Zones Association in Lagos with themed, “Streamlining Free Zone Operations for Global Competitiveness”.
Adebayo noted that the ministry had in 2020 temporarily suspended the issuance of new free trade zone licenses, due to the need to overhaul the system and however noted that yearly returns must be made by the operators following the directive on license expansion.
The Minister also tasked the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) and the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority to fully digitalise its operations before the end of the year reiterating government’s commitment to ensuring a more harmonised operating system for all stakeholders in the free trade zones across the country.
“Their performance impacts three main areas of job creation, diversifying government revenue and generating foreign exchange as a well functional free trade zone in Nigeria can create 300,000 direct jobs.
“Expanding Nigeria’s export capacity needs under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) mitigates the risk of Nigeria becoming a dumping ground for imports while also boosting our foreign currency reserves.
Managing Director, NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba revealed that over $25 billion had come in through the scheme so far and lauded the Federal Government for the 50 megawatts of electricity allotted to the free zone.
“What also really matters is creating the right enabling environment for local and international investors to thrive as free zones have been proven to drive economic growth and development,” Executive Director, Nigeria Economic Zones Association, Mr Toyin Elegbede explained.
Chief Financial Officer, Lagos Free Zone, Mr Ashish Khemka said not enough had been done to make the values of the free trade zones in Nigeria emerge, he explained that lack of understanding, overlapping interventions of regulatory authorities and agencies hindered the successes of free trade zones in Nigeria.
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