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Free Trade Zone

Ebonyi praises Buhari, NEPZA for approving SEZ

By Chris Ndibe

The Ebonyi  state has described the approval given to it for the establishment of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) by President Muhammadu Buhari as a worthy overture capable of harnessing the economic potentials of the entire eastern region.

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi made the commendation when he handed over the original copy of the Certificate of Occupancy of the site where the zone would be located to Prof. Adesoji Adsugba, Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) on Monday in Abuja.

Mr Martins Odeh, Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA, said in a statement that Umahi was represented by Hon. Sylvester Ogbaga, a Federal Lawmaker, representing Abakaliki/Izzi Federal Constituency of the state at the House of Representatives.

Umahi said the president had by this action finally accorded the region the capacity to live up to its bragging right as a true industrial hub in Africa.

The governor explained that the Buhari’s administration was now energizing NEPZA to drive the country’s industrialization, adding that the zeal and commitment of the new managing director to ensure the realization of this goal had been legendary.

“Let me unequivocally state that, the Government and the people of Ebonyi State shall forever remain grateful to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari for considering the state worthy to be among the six states to benefit from this wonderful initiative.

“We are equally grateful to NEPZA Management led by Prof. Adesoji Adesugba for ensuring that our dream of having a special business enclave like the free trade zone came to fruition.

“ The state will in collaboration with the federal government, NEPZA, the Organised Private Sector, enterprises and investors from across the world ensure that this business ecosystem is developed with world class infrastructure for the benefit of the country,’’ Umahi said.

He also said the industrial base would be fully exploited by the region as according to him, the zone will create jobs, spark export of industrial goods, attract both Local/Foreign Direct Investments and reduce poverty among the people.

Meanwhile, the NEPZA Chief Executive Officer, said he was elated to witness the delivery of the original copy of the C-of-O of the proposed site of the zone, adding that he was also ecstatic with the commitment of the state toward the project so far.

Adesugba reiterated that President Buhari had bestowed parts of the Post-Covid-19 economic recovery plans and industrialization process of the country on NEPZA, adding that the Authority had the mandate of ensuring the buying-ins of all the state governments to achieve these noble targets.

“The Ebonyi State Government has shown to us that when there is a will, there must be a way. I therefore, add my voice to thank His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari for enlisting the state into free trade zone family’’, NEPZA boss said.

Price adjustment affects sale of petrol in Lagos

By Moses Uwagbale

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has reported that some filling stations in Lagos were not selling fuel because of uncertainty of the new pump price.

IPMAN’s President, Mr Chinedu Okoronkwo, said in Lagos that there was no need for panic buying because the move was based on the price notation to marketers by the PPMC.

Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) had adjusted the ex-depot price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, from N147. 67 to N155.17 effective Nov. 13.

Only few petrol stations in Ikeja, Iyana-Ipaja and Abule-Egba areas of Lagos State were still selling petrol at the old pump price of N159 per litre.

Others, especially those owned by independent marketers, were not opened for business thereby creating fear of fuel scarcity among motorists and residents of the areas.

He said: “We buy from them and we heard that there is a new ex-depot price.

“Now people will like to know whether that is true from the source so that they will not sell at a loss.

“So the marketers are waiting for clarification from PPMC because a lot of people were not privy to have seen the memo.

“Hopefully, it will be resolved soon and everybody will start selling.’’

Okoronkwo insisted that the Federal Government was right to remove subsidy on PMS in spite of the hike in the pump price of petrol which may hit N170 soon.

He said: “We know this was bound to happen as the price is now determined by market forces but it will be beneficial to the country in the long run.

“More investors are coming into the sector and once we are able to refine our products locally, the pump prices will reduce.

“Walter Smith Refinery in Imo is already up and running and people have started loading products from there. Dangote Refinery in Lagos will soon start operation too.

“We have others in Bayelsa and Rivers and by 2021 we will be expecting the prices to stabilise.’’

ACCI lauds Nigeria’s ratification of AfCFTA

By Chris Ndibe

The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has applauded the Federal Executive Council’s endorsement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA).

The Chamber called for government’s support for the private sector, manufacturing and industrialisation.

Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, ACCI President, in statement on Thursday in Abuja described the development as commendable and a major boost to trade integration among African nations.

According to him, the AFCTA is a flagship project whose success will expand intra and inter African trade while also creating wealth to address gross inequality and poverty on the African continent.

“We warmly welcome the endorsement of AFCTA by the Federal Excutive Council. We also note that the National Action Committee on AFCTA preparedness has been working round the clock to put the nation on sound footing.

“The approval by FEC should now ramp up implementation of preparedness plans already submitted to government.

” The sectoral and sub-sectoral action plans listed and analysed many interventions needed to prepare Nigeria as a successful actor in the free continental trade.

“We can no longer wait any further as other African nations are passionately preparing. We must start the implementation of the preparedness plans,” Kayode said.

He said as Africa’s biggest economy and market, influx of goods from various parts of Africa when AfCTA kicked off should be expected.

Kayode said that government policies must deliberately assist and empower manufacturers to produce and export, to take full advantage of the AFCTA.

“Restrictive policies handicapping the private sector should be reviewed and relaxed.

“Multiple taxation that is cleaning busineses should be reconsidered. Funding for crucial sectors of the economy should be channeled through credible business associations.

“And more importantly, over-regulation kills businesses. Our government must urgently provide legal backing for the Ease of Doing Business reforms”, ACCI boss stated.

Nigeria commits to AfCFTA to beat December 5 deadline

By Tanko Mohammed

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has ratified Nigeria’s membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as the deadline of December 5, draws nearer.

The AfCFTA Agreement comes into effect on the 1st of January 2021,” a tweet from the Nigerian government said.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation, becomes the latest country to ratify membership of the free trade agreement. The agreement has so far been ratified by at least 30 African Union member states.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the AfCFTA is, by the number of participating countries, the largest trade agreement since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

Its implementation will form a $3.4 trillion economic bloc with 1.3 billion people across the continent and is expected to probably double intra-Africa trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation.

The first commercial deal under the AfCFTA is expected to take place on January 1, 2021 as outstanding discussions will take place online. Disruptions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic forced a delay of the implementation of the agreement initially set for the beginning of July.

The African Union said the AfCFTA will offer Africa an opportunity to reconfigure its supply chains, reduce reliance on others and speed up the establishment of regional value chains which will boost intra-Africa trade.

Kaduna Inland Dry Port moves to render improved services

By Anthony Areh

The Kaduna Inland Dry Port says it is strategising ahead of 2021 to render  better services to its clients and to woo more partners in delivering improved services.

The Port Manager, Mr Rotimi Hassan, said in Kaduna  on Wednesday that “we want to put the setbacks caused by COVID-19 pandemic behind us and strategise  to ensure economic activities pick up beginning from next year.

“We want to create the necessary awareness and publicity on our services so that people can use this place as their final port for exports from the northern part of the country

“In the northern part of the country, there are so many exporting activities like the export of ginger, tiger nuts, sesame seeds, many other cash crops and solid minerals,’’ he said.

The port has 4,000 square meters capacity warehouse for storage of imported or ready-to-be-exported goods.

Hassan said it was a thing of joy that the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, already directed the expansion of the narrow rail gauge at the port to a standard gauge as this would enable it to receive and dispatch more containers.

“The essence of establishing the dry port is to decongest the major ports and to bring shipping services closer to regional areas of the country.

The port manager also urged the Federal Government to intensify the rehabilitation of existing rail lines across the country and expand them so as to reduce the pressure on road transportation.