Reforms will catalyze transformation of SEZs into world class standard – Adebayo

By Odimmegwa Johnpeter/Abuja

The Federal Government is optimistic that the proposed reform of the Calabar and Kano Special Economic Zones (SEZs) will cause a major revitaliastion of the two zones and also serve as a catalyst for transforming them into world class standard, Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo has revealed.

Inaugurating the Transaction Implementation Committee (TIC) for the reform of the two SEZs in his office in Abuja on Friday, July 10, 2020, the Minister also noted that the reform would bring about Nigeria’s economic diversification, growth and development; and charged members of the Committee to take the national assignment with the highest sense of responsibility.

He said that the world over, SEZs have been pivotal in the economic growth and development of several countries but that in Nigeria and generally in Africa, their performance has been sub-optimal, adding that there are 34 SEZs in Nigeria out which, the Federal owns only the Calabar and Kano Free Trade Zones while the rest are either privately owned or joint ventures between the private sector and state governments.

Adebayo regretted that the two Federal Government owned SEZs in their current state are underperforming and cannot significantly improve the country’s competitiveness or effect structural changes/economic diversification due to the following challenges:

  • Inadequate and outdated infrastructure including unreliable public power supply and expensive cost of generating power through other sources
  • Reliance on Treasury to finance capital expenditure
  • Lack of deliberate or strategic plan to attracts investors and create clusters; and
  • The absence of a clear link between the industrialization strategy of government and the Free Trade Zones.

The minister said that it is for these reasons and given the large investments required to transform the two SEZs that private sector investment is imperative to reduce government’s financial burden and associated business risks as well as to introduce innovative ideas to the management and operational framework of the Zones for improved employment generation, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and export promotion.

Also speaking at the event, Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Alex A. Okoh said the transaction would be fast-tracked to meet its completion deadline.

He thanked the minister for prioritizing the transaction, given its huge economic benefits for the country  and stressed that all relevant stakeholders would  be involved to deliver on the mandate  of the TIC.

Okoh said the Transaction Implementation Committee (TIC) is drawn from different Federal Government agencies with the Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment as its Chairman and the DG, BPE as vice Chairman.

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