Twenty-seven years after the establishment of the Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ) by the Ibrahim Babangida military administration, the team that midwifed that dream to reality is gearing up to push for its upgrading to Eco-Industrial Park (EIP) as a pilot scheme in the country.
The team comprises United Nations Development Organisation (UNIDO), German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and SOFIES Sustainability.
Klaus Tryrkko, chief technical adviser, UNIDO, Akimropo Omoware, senior adviser, trade policy, GIZ, and Arikit Kapasi, senior consultant, SOFIES Sustainability India, disclosed on Wednesday in Calabar that plans are on to recommend to the Federal Government for the upgrading of the CFTZ to EIP before the end of the year.
Trykko, who is also a global eco-industrial expert based in Austria, unveiled UNIDO’s plan during a four-day Opportunity Identification Workshop and Training for managers and investors held at the auditorium of the CFTZ.
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He said the essence of the workshop was a re-appraisal of what was put in place 27 years ago and further revealed that UNIDO has been working in a number of countries, creating opportunities, wealth, and benefits over the years.
On his part, Omoware said GIZ, an agency of the German government established since 1974, promotes trade and sustainable economic development and has, over the years, invested in power sector and vocational training with projects sited across the country.
Kapasi of SOFIES Sustainability, while giving an overview of UNIDO activities around the globe, said since 2012, 168 opportunities have been created, with over 800 participants trained.
He said the global body has been creating a common understanding and implementation of EIP, working to undertake a baseline assessment, improving economic development and investment climate for enterprise in Nigeria.
“This is 27 years after a national survey by the Federal Government, undertaken by UNIDO. The same people are coming today for a re-appraisal, and 27 years ago Calabar was considered the best option for the establishment of a Free Trade Zone that informed the then President Ibrahim Babangida coming here to establish the first Premier Export Processing Zone in the country,” Godwin Ekpe, head of Calabar Free Trade Zone, said in an interview.
“Looking at the security situation in the country, Calabar still remains the best option and is relatively peaceful and safe for investors as compared to other states in Nigeria,” he said.