• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Concessioning of Calabar, Kano FTZs pathway to accelerating Nigeria’s industrialization – Minister

FG, UK signs MOU to enhance trade, investment relations

The minister of industry, trade and investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, on Tuesday assured prospective investors in the Calabar and Kano Free Trade Zones (FTZs) that the ongoing reform process of the zones is a pathway to accelerating the country’s industrialization drive and economic development.

The minister gave the assurance at the road show for the concession of Calabar and Kano FTZs stating that the entire concession process will be transparently implemented to ensure that only the best emerge for each of the zones.

Adebayo in a virtual presentation said that the advent of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has also made it imperative that the two zones (owned by the Federal Government) are revived, reformed and transformed into world class standards to make them functional and globally competitive.

“The concession model is adopted to ensure that private sector investors with the requisite technical competence and financial capability that would emerge from a competitive transparent process are allowed to invest, operate and manage the facilities for a certain number of years while the ownership remains with the Federal Government,” Adebayo said.

The minister states further that the roadshow is a demonstration of the Federal Government’s commitment, desire and implicit confidence in the ability of the private sector not to only reinvigorate Calabar and Kano FTZs, but to make them functional, competitive, exploring the huge potential of AfCFTA to enable the country achieves rapid, inclusive and sustainable industrialization, create jobs, and diversify Nigeria’s export earnings.

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According to Adebayo, two zones currently owned by the federal government in their current state cannot significantly improve the country’s competitiveness nor help the drive to effect structural change/economic diversification due to poor infrastructure, reliance on treasury to finance capital expenditure.

He said further that there is no link between the industrialization strategy of the government and the zones, due to limited skills.

“Private sector investment is important to reduce government’s financial burden and the associated business risks as well as to introduce innovative ideas to the management and operational framework of the zones for improved performance in areas of, economic growth, employment generation, foreign direct investment and export promotion,” he concludes.

Alex Okoh, Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), said that the level of interest by prospective investors had been quite strong, with the level of indications and participation received by the BPE.

According to him, the Bureau published the request for qualification, earlier last month, which is the first stage of the process, while the deadline for submission is May 23. He said government’s expectations should be able to catalyse development in the West African region that would optimise growth and development of the FTZs on the back of AfCFTA.