The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) said the new partnership with the World Bank and the International Financial Co-operation (IFC)in the area of infrastructural development of Free Trade Zones across the country and staff capacity building will help in attracting more Foreign Direct Investment to the Nigerian economy.
The NEPZA Acting Managing Director, Mr. Bitrus Dawuk who disclosed this when the World Bank and the International Financial Co-operation (IFC) delegation paid him a courtesy visit at the Authority’s Headquarters in Abuja, said one of the bottlenecks militating against optimal performance of Free Trade Zones is NEPZA’s obsolete legislations that is in the process of being amended by the National Assembly which after its amendment will be capable of generating billions of dollars worth of Investments into the country.
“NEPZA is ever ready to work with the World Bank and the IFC in giving Nigeria world class Free Zones as there are already measures in place to review the outdated regulations of NEPZA to make it more favourable for Foreign Investors to come in and invest in the country. I will be on your neck from now on, especially in areas of training of my staff for optimum performance” he said.
In his remark, leader of the delegation, Mr. Feyi Boroffice, said the visit was aimed at strengthening relationship with NEPZA by providing an enabling environment to attract more foreign investors into the country by building anchor projects that would encourage the establishment of industries such as the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical plant.
He said the World Bank which has the mandate of providing funding or advice for the development of countries, do so with the help of the four arms of the organization which are; International Financial Co-operation (IFC) which finances private Companies, International Development Association (IDA) which provides assurance on political risks for foreign investors and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) which provides arbitration for investment disputes.
“The World Bank group is the multilateral development institution so our aim is to go to all the developing countries in the world to see where we can provide funding or advice to help with development. So the two hundred and ten (210) or two hundred and twenty countries (220) in the world, one hundred and fifty (150) of them are developing countries we need to go there and see how we can help with development. So the typical development home treat is how we can create more jobs, how can we increase women participation in the economic process, how can we increase money and standard investment, how do we increase exports”.
The leader of the delegation explained how the World Bank has been part of the Dangote Refinery and Fertilizer plant project in Ibeju Lekki, suggesting the need for a replication of such a massive project across other zones in the Federation.
“Just go through the zones, this is exactly development; you have zones and investors coming. A good example is what is going on in Lekki, I don’t think we have ever had an investment of that scale. If you look at Dangote complex in the private sector it never happened. This should be over $11 to $12 billion, it has never ever happened, this is trailblazing.
“We are also very interested in the Akwa Ibom Free Trade Zone project which we understand is under your Authority’s supervision as we appeal to you and the Authority to give us the opportunity to participate in the project for the total economic benefit of Nigeria” he said.
He however, pointed out the major hindrance in the regulatory laws of NEPZA, as captured in the 1992 establishment decree which need to be amended to encourage foreign investors to replicate such heights as achieved by Dangote Group of Companies adding that there should be a legal framework across the Zones to improve the union between NEPZA and the World Bank.
The IFC representative, Bambo Kunle-Salami said, what the world bank does is to provide funding and advice to the public sector and government while the IFC dwells more on Private sectors.
“We do the same thing the World Bank does but what we do is that we only deal with the private companies. We also provide funding and provide advice to private companies. So in Nigeria we have been active for over thirty (30) years. I will just mention a few projects you are aware of. You all know Dangote cement plants, when Nigeria had no cement capacity we finance that plant from its very beginning, the world zones were able to finance them as well. We as international finance cooperation (IFC) we deal with the private sector” she said.