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Free Trade Zone

AfCFTA will harmonise investment rules, create opportunity

By Tanko Mohammed

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) says the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will harmonise investment rules between its member countries and the rest of the world to create equal opportunity.

Mr Stephen Karingi, the Director for Regional Integration at the ECA made this known at a Nordic-African Business Webcast on Friday in Abuja.

Karingi said that as the AfCFTA was preparing to start trading in 2021, it would ensure its investment rules were coordinated between its member countries and the rest of the world.

According to him, there are currently multiple bilateral treaties between African countries and bilateral investment treaties and between some African countries and the rest of the world.

He however said that negotiations to harmonise such treaties would start after trading, which would begin on Jan.1, 2021, “and be concluded very quickly’’.

“The AfCFTA is a very deep and broad agreement that is not just focusing on trade in goods and trade in services.

“It is looking at those issues that will make this regional integration functional through competition policy, intellectual property rights, investment protocol and also e-commerce.”

He said that the investment protocol to replace the rules would help to attract foreign direct investors to come and establish businesses in Africa.

AfCFTA with its secretariat in Accra Ghana is a free trade area with 54 of the 55 nations as participating members.

The agreement was brokered by the African Union 9(AU) and was signed by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.

It began on May 30, 2019, as the required 22 countries threshold had deposited their instruments of ratification, and currently 30 countries have ratified the AfCFTA.

The free-trade area is reputed to be the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a continental market for goods and services with free movement of people and capital and pave the way for creating a customs union.

It will also grow intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation across the continent.

Ganduje makes case for Dala Inland Port

By Anthony Areh

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has called on the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) to follow up with the Federal Ministry of Transportation to declare Dala Inland Dry Port as a destination port.

Ganduje made the call when he visited the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, at the council’s headquarters in Lagos on Friday.

According to him, declaring Dala a destination port will boost the economy of the state and help facilitate efficient handling of both import and export cargoes.

He urged the council to consider rail extension into the inland port and ensure cooperation and collaboration between shipping lines and their agents.

Ganduje also urged NSC to facilitate the actualisation of the inland port to a Transport and Logistics Free Zone and facilitate linkages and access to the markets in the Sahel African countries, particularly Chad and Niger Republics.

He appreciated the shippers’ council for its initiative in promoting the establishment of inland dry ports in order to make shipping services available to those in the hinterland.

“It is a known fact that logistics is the livewire for any economic pursuit and when goods are produced at any location, their values can only be realised when they get delivered to the ultimate users.

“The Dala Inland Dry Port have since its conception in the last 20 years faced varying challenges but the efforts of Bello have been its life saver.

“The Kano State Government under my watch appreciates the economic importance of the inland dry port project to the socioeconomic well-being of my people and we are fully committed to facilitate and support its actualisation,” he said.

He noted that the state had provided 200 hectres of virgin land free of encumbrances required for the two integrated projects – the Inland Dry Port and the Special Economic Zone.

He listed the critical infrastructure provided by the state for the actualisation of the project as; construction of standard dual carriage access road to the project site, power and water, among others.

Earlier, Bello described the Inland Dry Port as one of the tools which Nigeria could use to harness the gains of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), adding that Nigeria needed to get ready to receive and utilise it.

The Shippers’ Council boss thanked the Kano State Government which, he said, had already committed about N2.4 billion to the access road to the terminal which is 50 per cent completed.

He noted that the perimeter fencing was being done, while electricity, water and many other amenities were provided at the dry port.

“It is not by our size or our population, it is how far we have gone to bring infrastructure, industries and productions in our various states for the benefit of Nigerians.

“The Free Trade Agreement is the largest single market accounting for about $4 trillion in spending and investment across 54 countries; it will cover 1.2 billion people in Africa, and over $3 billion in gross domestic product.

“By 2050, it will expand the economy of Africa to $29 trillion, and boost intra African trade which is currently at 18 per cent to 52 per cent.

“In Europe, the trade amongst themselves is 70 per cent; in North America it is 49 per cent; while in Asia they have 35 per cent. But in Africa, we have only 18 per cent.

“However with the introduction of the AfCFTA, we will go up to 52 per cent but the benefit will depend on infrastructure.

“Currently, Africa has a deficit of infrastructure of over $100 billion,” he said.

Bello pointed out that Kano State had started bridging that gap and had an advantage over other states.

The NSC boss said that he hoped that the Ministry of Transportation, through the Federal Executive Council (FEC), would approve the inland port by December, laying the foundation for a significant port in modern Nigeria.

He noted that the Dala Inland Dry Port would be directly under the supervision of the NSC and that it would be a port with electronic gate, 24-hours operation, with multi-modal approach to cargo delivery.

Fanda, NEPZA’s board chairman tasks Nigerians on free trade zones

By Anthony Areh

The Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has urged the Federal Government and Private Sector to ensure that the Free Trade Zone scheme is strengthened through improved legal framework and global best practices.

Alhaji Adamu Fanda, newly-appointed Chairman of NEPZA Board, made the call during his first official visit to the authority’s headquarters on Tuesday in Abuja.

Fanda, in a statement by Mr Martins Odeh Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA, said for Nigeria to catch up on genuine economic growth and industrialisation, the scheme must be strengthened through sustained investments.

The chairman said that a well implemented Free Trade Zone (FTZ) regime had proven to be a catalyst for manufacturing and economic growth in several parts of the world.

He said that the country must ramp up its empowerment of NEPZA through urgent legal reforms.

Fanda said it must also do so through compliance by all government agencies to the provision of the authority’s Act that allowed operations in zones to be tax free.

“China, Dubai, Japan and South Korea are great examples of how special economic zones can be used to increase manufacturing capacity and deepen foreign exchange earnings.

“African countries like South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and our neighbour, Ghana, are deploying the model to great advantage.

“Nigeria cannot be an exception. FTZs must work to fulfil President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda for an industrialised Nigeria”, Fanda said.

He pledged to support the management of the authority with due process and accountability to realise its mandate, and promised extensive advocacy in support of the FTZs.

The chairman said that the management would find in the board an ever-willing body devoted to smooth and open process to drive expansion of free zones for the development of Nigeria.

On his part, NEPZA Managing Director, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, described Fanda’s appointment as timely and a commendable decision in the best interest of the authority and the country.

Adesugba described the chairman as an experienced private and public sector figure.

He noted that several critical decisions and issues could now be addressed to advance ongoing reforms of the agency.

Commending President Muhammadu Buhari for the appointment of Fanda, Adesugba said: “Going by his antecedent and records, we all share the vision of the President for a new Nigeria with strong industrial sector, creating jobs and attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).’’

“We are even more elated that our chairman is not just a product of the private sector, but has strong links and contacts as a former member of the legislature.

“ As we launch our legislative agenda for the amendment of NEPZA Act to address loopholes in the authority’s legal framework and update it in line with current realities, we will be relying heavily on the chairman’s goodwill to fast track the process’’, Adesugba said.

The managing director stated that the paramount goal was to ensure the realisation of the authority’s mandate.

NEPZA moves to resolve free zones’ challenges, spur GDP

By Chris Ndibe

The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has reported it is working to resolve critical challenges in Free Trade Zones (FTZs) scheme to spur investments and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.

Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, NEPZA’s Managing Director, made this known at the Nigeria and West Africa GDP Global Webinar 2 on ”FDI, State Economic Prospects and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Promotion”.

Adesugba spoke on “Nigeria Special Economic Zones Prospects’’ listed some critical challenges facing FTZs scheme, which could act as a deterrent to investments and GDP growth in the country.

The NEPZA Chief identified one of the most critical challenge as lack of  understanding of the concept of the FTZs by relevant government agencies and other stakeholders.

He equally decried lack of adequate fund and infrastructure, obsolete law and inconsistency in government policies, urging critical stakeholders on FTZs to synergise to work on a law to improve operations of FTZs.

Adesugba, while calling for adequate infrastructure said for Nigeria to have an international standard FTZs there must be infrastructure like power, road, water and adequate services.

The NEPZA boss recalled that the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) was set out to increase manufacturing contribution from four per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to over 10 per cent in next five years.

According to him, it is projected that the increase in GDP will translate to about five trillion naira annually.

He recalled that in April 2017 President Muhammadu Buhari also launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), a road map agregrating the sectorial plans to agriculture, transportation, industrialisation and social investments.

Under the ERGP, he said the SEZs model was being used to accelerate the implementation of NIRP, a 4-year roadmap on industrialisation to create jobs and promote export which in turn will facilitate economic growth.

He noted that these projections were made but the COVID-19 pandemic affected the global economic projections and Nigeria was not left out.

However, he said that the development of SEZs in Nigeria still remained a presidential priority and one strategy to get Nigeria out of economic downturn.

He said the government identified the SEZs scheme as a key policy instruments for realisation of its industrialisation agenda following the President’s visit to China in 2016.

“It is very important for us to note that if we are trying to replicate what China did we must ensure that all the parameters are met, especially on infrastructural development and regulatory framework,” he added.

He said in support to the President’s agenda, NEPZA recently revised its strategic plan to include an increase in the number of functional and optimal SEZs as one of its key goals.

He explained that there were several planned and ongoing strategies targeted at achieving these goals including the creation of SEZs border, establishing technical zones and enabling environment in formatic areas like medical tourism, mining, technology and agriculture.

He added that FTZs in Lekki in Lagos, Ilorin, Funtua in Kastina and Gombe would be developed to modern zones with hope to set up SEZs for functional medical tourism in Lekki in collaboration with World Bank and state government.

He said NEPZA act of 1992 mandated the authority to provide a conducive investments climate with competitive incentives regime, streamlines administrative procedures and infrastructural development.

“NEPZA currently operates various types of FTZs, which include the export processing zones, free trade zones, border free zones, science and industrial technology parks and logistics zones.

“We have about 42 licensed free trade zones and currently we have 22 operational zones, 400 free zones enterprises in different sectors and have managed to attract over 16 billion dollars while local investments have been put at N270 billion.

“We have generated over 15,000 direct and 30,000 indirect jobs, generated government revenues of N30 billion, carried out pilot projects like construction of Dangote Refinery at Lekki FTZ , the largest refinery due for completion by first quarter of 2021,” he said.

“We are in the process of upgrading, retraining zones managers. The current NEPZA management has a renewed focus to resolve these challenges to improve efficiency in trade zone operations,” he noted.

Earlier in a remark, Charles Ughele, Chief Representative and Advisor West Africa, GDP Global Development, stressed the need to focus on how to get Nigeria out of COVID-19 economic downturn through pragmatic solutions.

GDP Global Development is a leading and specialized economic promotion and business development consultancy, which provides pragmatic solutions to economic policies, encourage international best practices and trade facilitation.

Fanda new Board chairman of NEPZA

By Moses Uwagbale

Alhaji Adamu Fanda, a former member House of Representative from Kano State has been appointed as Chairman of the Board of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA).

A memo dated October 6, 2020 signed by Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarso, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, said that the appointment is effective from September 26, 2020. 

Fanda’s appointment was sequel to the ministry’s request through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to President Muhammadu Buhari on July 23, 2020 for the replacement of Mr Segun Oni who formerly held the position.

The Managing Director of NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, has thanked the president for the prompt appointment of Fanda.

Adesugba said the appointment was indicative of Buhari’s commitment to ensuring that NEPZA got a fresh breath of life, as according to him, Fanda has the requisite exposure, experience and credentials to help in the revitalization process of the agency.

“I am grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari for the appointment of Alhaji Adamu Abdu Fanda as NEPZA board chairman.

This shows the president’s commitment toward ensuring that the Authority is not hindered in any way while performing its task of growing the economy through free trade zone development.

“We are elated with this development as Fanda’s coming has made our team complete. The management and staff of the Authority would not hesitate to team up with our new chairman to fast track the impact of free trade zone scheme on the country economy’’, the NEPZA boss said.

Adesugba also expressed delight over the many interventions of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otumba Adeniyi Adebayo made to stabilize NEPZA, adding that the appointment of a new board chairman for the Authority was geared toward giving the agency a full operation status.