Free trade zones that could create millions of jobs for Nigerians

September 26th, 2019

The recent upsurge of activities in the Centenary Free Trade, Tomaro Trade Zone, among others, holds a massive prospect for the nation’s industrialisation and job creation’s drive. FELIX KHANOBA reports.

The free trade zones licensed by the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) are gradually becoming Nigeria’s best bet for massive industrial development.

The zones, which are part of wider move by government to boost local manufacturing and position the country as a major export hub, have also proved to be strategic platform to accelerate the implementation of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan.

NEPZA in line with its mandate has so far licensed over 40 free trade zones spread across the country, which are at various stages of completion level, and are expected to rake in billions of dollars for the country in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) while at the same time generating millions of direct and indirect jobs.

While the Federal Government-owned Calabar and Kano trade zones are almost set for commencement of full economic activities following the renewed commitment to fund various infrastructural projects in the areas, the resurgence in construction activities in other zones like the Centenary Economic City Free Zone, Abuja, Tomaro Free Zone, Ladol Free Zone, Abuja Technology Village (ATV) Free Zone, among others, has been a great delight to Industry experts.

Engr. Terhemba Nongo, Acting Managing Director of NEPZA, the agency saddled with the responsibility of regulating activities of free zones, said the recent decision of the Federal Government in approving seven new zones has further testified to the importance of using the zones as a major tool for economic development.
“The President has established seven new trade zones; one in Lekki, Ilorin, Makurdi, Sokoto and yet to be agreed location in North-East and South-East, and one in Ebonyi State, which we are yet to get the site.

“The design of four of the industrial parks are almost completed. We will provide infrastructures in these zones and with the right investment each of the zone will provide a minimum of 50,000 direct jobs and when multiplied by seven, that will be 350,000, and indirect jobs of about 3 million.

“For Centenary City (Free Zone), if you go to the zone now you will see a lot of activities. We are very happy we were able to resolve the challenges,” Nongo said during a chat with newsmen in Abuja, recently.

Though the construction of each of the new zone is estimated to cost between N50 billion to N80 billion, Nongo said the country stands to gain a lot from the projects as it will not only recoup its investments in a short period of time but will further attract massive FDI.

On the Calabar Free Zone (FZ), Nongo said about N5 billion would be needed to construct Independent Power Plant to service its activities while about N10 billion will be enough to complete all infrastructural projects in Kano Free Zone.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring more funds for NEPZA, adding that N50 billion was allocated to the Authority in the 2017 budget, with the same feat repeated in the 2018 appropriation.

Nongo, who appealed for support to ensure that Nigeria reaps the benefit of trade zones, gave a classical example of Ethiopia, which expended over N100 billion on an industrial park within 12 months and will be reaping one billion dollars per year from the investment in not too distant time.
Some of the active trade zones in the country which are already contributing their quota towards the economic development of the country include the Lagos Airline Service Zone, the Dangote Industries FZ, Ladol FZ, Lagos FZ, Lekki FZ and Nigeria Aviation Handling Company FZ.

Others are Eko Atlantic Snakes Island Integrated FZ, Centenary Economic City FZ, Tomaro FZ, Adamawa Sebore Farms FZ and Akwa Ibom ALSCON FZ.

The list also includes Calabar FZ, Kano FZ, Jigawa Maigatari Border FZ, Ogun Guandong FZ, among others.

Recall that free zones are put in place to allow interested persons to set up industries and businesses at a low cost and tax-free environment, with a major objective of boosting manufacturing and export activities.

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