By Felix Khanoba
The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has expressed optimism that its new partnership with the World Bank and the International Financial Cooperation (IFC) would bring about rapid infrastructural development in Free Trade Zones in the country.
Acting Managing Director of NEPZA, Mr Bitrus Dawuk, who stated this when the World Bank and IFC delegations paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja, said the relationship would attract more Foreign Direct Investments to the nation’s economy and ensure capacity building for the agency’s staff.
He said a major bottleneck against optimal performance of Free Trade Zones in Nigeria- NEPZA’s obsolete legislation, is receiving the attention of the National Assembly for amendment.
“NEPZA is ever ready to work with the World Bank and the IFC in giving Nigeria a world class free zones as there are already measures in place to review the outdated regulations of NEPZA to make it more favourable for foreign investors to come in and invest in the country,” he said.
On his part, leader of the World Bank delegation, Mr Feyi Boroffice, said the visit was aimed at strengthening relationship with NEPZA by building anchor projects that would encourage the establishment of industries such as the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical plant.
Boroffice explained how the World Bank has been part of the Dangote Refinery and Fertilizer Plant project in Ibeju-Lekki, suggesting the need for a replication of such a massive project across other zones in the country.
“A good example is what is going on in Lekki, I don’t think we have ever had an investment of that scale. If you look at Dangote complex in the private sector it never happened. This should be over 11 to 12 billion dollars, it has never ever happened, this is trailblazing.
“We are also very interested in the Akwa Ibom Free Trade Zone project which we understand is under your Authority’s supervision as we appeal to you and the Authority to give us the opportunity to participate in the project for the total economic benefit of Nigeria,” he said.
He however, pointed out the major hindrance in the regulatory law of NEPZA, as captured in the 1992 establishment decree which need to be amended to encourage foreign investors, adding that there should be a legal framework across the Zones to improve the relationship between NEPZA and the World Bank.
The IFC representative, Bambo Kunle-Salami said what the World Bank does is to provide funding and advice to the public sector and government while the IFC dwells more on the private sector.