BusinessDay

Investors troop in as Ogun awaits NEPZA’s approval for new free trade zone

A group of foreign and local investors led by Ceplas Industries Limited has begun moves to establish a new free trade zone in Ijebu-Remo axis, Ogun East Senatorial District of Ogun State, with a view to creating a cluster of manufacturing industries that compete favourably with existing free trade zones in the country.

The new free trade zone if approved by the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) will bring active free trade zones in the state to two after Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone in Igbesa, in Ogun West Senatorial District which is a partnership between Guangdong Province in the Republic of China and Ogun State Government.

Recall that former Governor Gbenga Daniel -led administration of Ogun state between years 2003 and 2011, facilitated three free trade zones to all three Senatorial Districts, namely, Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone in the West; Olokola Free Trade Zone in the East; and Kajola Free Trade Zone in the Central, but only Ogun Guangdong in the West is active as other two free zones are inactive.

But, as part of effort to reverse the trend for better economic prosperity, a group of new investors, majorly Indians that are led by the Ceplas Industries Limited, have, in partnership with Ogun State Government, approached the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) for approval to establish a cluster of manufacturing industries that export finished products to other African countries.

This, according to the initiator, will increase Nigeria’s gross domestic product, create wealth, reduce capital flights and generate employment opportunities for the jobless Nigerians, thereby, boosting the country’s economies for which Ogun state will also benefit bountifully in terms of taxes and inflow of investments to the state.

Speaking during a dedicated industrial tour made to Ceplas Plant in Sagamu by Ogun State Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment, Abhijit Sanyal, Director of Operations, Ceplas Industries Limited, noted that with the pending approval of the new free trade zone, “many manufacturing companies have already shown interest in setting up factories within the zone and will begin operations once approval is secured from NEPZA.”

Although, Sanyal expressed worries over the inability to access foreign exchange for hitch-free and early take-off the project if the approval is finally secured, he however said that right steps had been taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to address some of challenges being encountered by the investors as he expressed optimism that all the challenges are surmountable.

Responding, the Ogun State Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment, Kikelomo Longe, said that Governor Dapo Abiodun-led administration is creating a robust frame work for turning the state into industrial destination of choice for both prospective and existing investors, adding that challenges facing businesses in the state had led to the initiation of various policies and establishment of different Agencies to tackle them.

“We are not oblivious of the numerous challenges confronting our investors. The conscious and proactive efforts have birthed the establishment of relevant Agencies like the Ogun State Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency (OGUNINVEST), Ogun State Public Works Agency ( OGPWA), Ogun State Enterprise Development Agency (OGSEDA) as well as establishment of the Ogun State Business Environment Council (OGBEC) to improve the Ease of Doing Business and thicken the economic base”, she said.

The Commissioner however lauded the management of the company for the diversification of its products, processing and packaging as well as the actualisation of a free trade zone status, just as she assured the investors that the State Ministry would collaborate with the company on getting cleaner and efficient energy as well boosting their export volumes to other countries as the government is already working on harmonising its taxes.

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