Investments in Nigerian free trade zones hit $56bn 

Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo


The Federal Government has disclosed that investments into the Nigerian Free Trade Zones have reached $56 billion over the past thirty years.

Speaking in Abuja on Wednesday at the 30th Anniversary of the FTZ organised by the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adebayo said investments into the Zones have contributed significantly to the economy of the country. 

He said the Nigerian industrialisation drive zeroed the FTZ concept in 1977 but it was not until 1992 that a pragmatic step was taken with the enactment of the Nigeria Export Processing Authority Act 63, leading to the establishment of the premier Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Calabar which later became the Calabar Free Trade Zone. 

“Nigeria later established the Kano Free Trade Zone as a gateway to unlock the economic potentials of the Northern region and of course to link up Nigeria with sisters’ countries along the North African axis and the rest of the world for economic integration and prosperity.

“The country’s desire to use the free zone as an economic tool to spread development spurred the government to widen the scope of the operation by enacting the Oil and Gas Free Zone Act CAP 05 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, with a specific mandate to license, regulate and administer investments in the oil and gas sector of the economy,” he said. 

Adebayo noted that both NEPZA and the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) have over these years driven Nigeria’s economy by using the free zone business ecosystem to contribute significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“It is interesting to note that NEPZA has within its controlled zones a total of 44 private free zones in addition to the two functional public zones located in Calabar and Kano respectively with a total investment that stands at 26 billion US dollars as of 2022.

“The agency has also generated 150,000 employment and estimated 250,000 indirect employment in the past 30 years. Also, it gladdens my heart to report that OGFZA has used the Oil and Gas Free Zones to attract over 30 billion-US dollars of Foreign Direct Investment into our country.

“It has equally created over 50,000 direct employment and estimated 160,000 indirect employment respectively. The free trade zone scheme in Nigeria is beginning to make much meaning as its impact is now being significantly felt.

The Minister stated that ‘with the resolve of these two important regulatory bodies to now work together to revamp the economy, it is hoped that the scheme will take its rightful position as the key driver of the nation’s economy and industrialisation process” he said.

In his address, the Managing Director of NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, said, “Currently, NEPZA exercises regulatory oversight on 46 Free Trade Zones, out of which forty-four (44) are private-owned and two (2) fully owned and managed by the Authority on behalf of the government.

“Even the two (2) are undergoing a process of Concession to private entities. These business enclaves harbour over 600 enterprises providing 150,000 direct employment and an estimated 400,000 indirect employment. To date, the Zones have attracted over US$30 billion in investments which are expected to exponentially increase in the next few years with our sustained incentives and aggressive investment drive across the world.” 

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