Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has announced plans of a partnership with the World Bank and International Financial Cooperation (IFC) on staff capacity building and infrastructural development for Free Trade Zones in the country.
NEPZA Acting Managing Director, Mr Bitrus Dawuk, explained in a statement that the partnership will help in attracting more Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to the Nigerian economy.
Addressing World Bank and the IFC delegation who paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja, Dawuk explained that one of the bottlenecks militating against optimal performance of free trade zones was NEPZA’s obsolete legislation.
According to him, the legislation is in the process of being amended by the National Assembly.
He said: “NEPZA is ever ready to work with the World Bank and the IFC in giving Nigeria world class free zones.
“There are already measures in place to review the outdated regulations of NEPZA to make it more favourable for foreign investors to come in and invest in the country.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.
The 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 Nigeria.
Boroffice stated that it would be achieved by building anchor projects that would encourage the establishment of industries such as the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical plant.
“The IFC 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 developing countries in the world to see where we can provide funding or advice to help with development.
“Out of 210 or 220 countries in the world, 150 of them are developing countries, we need to go there and see how we can help with development”.
He explained that the World Bank had been part of the Dangote Refinery and Fertiliser plant project in Ibeju Lekki, suggesting the need for replication of such massive project across other zones of the federation.
“We are also 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 that the major hindrance, in the regulatory laws of NEPZA, as captured in the 1992 establishment the decree, needed to be amended to encourage foreign investors to replicate such heights as achieved by Dangote Group of companies.
He added 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 also said the world bank always strive to provide funding and advice to the public sector and government while the IFC dwelt more on private sectors.
“So in Nigeria we have been active for over 30 years. You all know Dangote cement plant, when Nigeria had no cement capacity, we financed that plant from its very beginning”.