While awaiting the completion of the process of bringing in more investors, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the award of contracts of more than N19.45 billion for the needed investment in Calabar and Kano Free Trade Zones where work is currently ongoing.
In a bid to consolidate more investors, Nigeria signed investment agreements with Afreximbank, Bank of Industry and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) for the development of special economic zones.
And with the signing, President Muhammadu Buhari, who presided over the ceremony at the Council Chambers of the Aso Rock Villa, declared the investment company in the special economic zones will become operational.
According to a statement by Bisi Daniels, the Strategy and Communications Adviser to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, the approval for Calabar and Kano is the highest amount of capital investment ever in the history of these zones.
He quoted President Buhari as saying: “We have allocated substantial funds to upgrade the capabilities of our people and the systems in the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority to strengthen it as a regulator of our Special Economic Zones; and
“We are allocating substantial resources to the provision of “outside the fence” infrastructure to ensure that our Special Economic Zones are connected to global, regional and domestic markets.
“We are reviewing our incentive framework to ensure competitiveness relative to the other countries with whom we are in the race to attract export oriented global manufacturing investment.”
He added that the Federal Government will extend the early successes achieved in Ease of Doing Business to the areas critical to globally competitive export-oriented manufacturing operations.
He thanked the investment partners for their “strong demonstrations of support for the important initiative.”
President Buhari who presided over the signing of the new agreement said: “Today, we are here to witness the signing of investment agreements, following which the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited will become fully operational.”
The Federal Government set up NSEZCO Limited as a vehicle for participating in Public-Private Partnerships involving Federal and State governments and local and foreign private investors.
They are to develop new Special Economic Zones all over the country, offering world class infrastructure and facilities at competitive costs.
The projects in the pilot phase include Enyimba Economic City, Funtua Cotton Cluster and Lekki Model Industrial Park.
The three DFIs are among the five to partner with NSEZCO and the Ministry of Finance Incorporated. NSEZCO intends to raise at least US$500million in equity over the first five years in order to execute its ambitious strategy of becoming a leading investor in special economic zones in the country.
The other investment partners are African Development Bank (AfDB) and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).