CBN restates support for investment, special economic zones

“In specific terms, the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, despite the challenges mentioned, has attracted over $24 billion investment."

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CBN, restates support for investment, special economic zones
Dr. Olayemi Cardoso CBN Governor

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it will continue to support the Federal Government to implement an investment promotion strategy to facilitate investment flow into the economy,

The CBN Governor, Mr Olayemi Cardoso, said this at a two-day Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Annual Meeting on Wednesday in Lagos.

The theme of the meeting was: “Unlocking Opportunities: Harnessing the Power of Nigeria’s Special Economic Zones Scheme.”

Cardoso said the special economic zones were significant to the actualisation of President Bola Tinubu economic vision of $1 trillion economy by 2026.

He said CBN’s mission of ensuring monetary policy and financial system stability was a catalyst for inclusive growth and sustainable economic development critical in ensuring the continued success of the zones.

According to him, the recent efforts geared towards stabilising the exchange rate will assist to attract foreign direct investment necessary to enhance development of the country’s Special Economic Zones.

Cardoso represented by Dr Kalu Oji, the Deputy Director, Trade and Exchange Department, CBN, said the bank was aware of the challenges faced by the SEZs.

He pledged to tackle the challenges in order to enable them attract more funds and job opportunities for Nigerians.

Also, Alhaji Bamanga Jada, Managing Director, Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, described Economic Zones Scheme as globally recognised instruments used by policy makers to facilitate, attract and scale-up long-term domestic and cross-border investments.

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Jada added that it was used to promote and enhance industrialisation, export-oriented investment, diversification, and job creation in most fast-growing economies around the world.

“There is convincing evidence in Nigeria today that the scheme has recorded remarkable progress despite the relatively negative economic climate and the enormous challenges that confront the operators and licensees.

“In specific terms, the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, despite the challenges mentioned, has attracted over $24 billion investment.

“The Authority has currently more than 100 efficient licensed companies in the oil and gas free zones under the Authority’s regulation,” he said.

He noted that the result was achieved through the combined efforts and collaboration of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; Nigeria Custom Service (NCS); Federal Inland Revenue Service, and other stakeholders.

Also, Mr Nabil Saleh, Chairman, Nigeria Economic Zones Association, said globally, economic free trade zones have helped many countries such as Morocco, China, Singapore to boost their manufacturing firms and other sectors.

“In Nigeria, the Special Economic Zones have not done badly. It has generated many direct and indirect jobs to the country, despite the challenges we are going through.

“The Nigeria Free Trade Zones, despite their potential, are still not in the standards we expect yet,” Saleh said.

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Commenting, Dr Olufemi Ogunyemi, the Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, said the meeting serves as an opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the challenges faced by operators in the various free zones.

Ogunyemi said the event would address the challenges and chart a way forward to ensure that the scheme continues to serve as a tool for sustainable economic growth.

“As the theme of the meeting suggests, it has become imperative that our SEZs be re-engineered, bearing in mind the unfolding of the fourth industrial revolution, the heightened focus on sustainable development, and the new wave of global value chains,” he said.