NEPZA targets inclusion of SMEs into economic zones

• seeks partnership with SMEDAN, NEPC

In a bid to boost the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria, the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has expressed readiness to include SMEs into ‘export business accelerator program,’ as a means to integrate same into the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) scheme for the greater good of the country’s business environment.

Speaking in Abuja, the Managing Director of NEPZA, Prof Adesoji Adesugba said a new SEZ model could be developed to allow the SMEs to undertake ancillary activities within the established zones.

“With more than 60 million Nigerians engaged in SMEs, the Federal Government will do good to consider the adoption of programs similar to Kenya’s to boost growth for these smaller companies.

“The management of NEPZA is willing to canvass the support and approval of Mr. President for definite and sustainable initiatives that can help in the growth and development of the national economy through the robust participation of the SMEs.”

According to a statement by Martin’s Odeh, the MD continued that “in line with our plans to develop sectorial SEZs for different industries such as Medical SEZ, Agro-allied, Textile, etc. We may seek a strategic alliance with SMEDAN and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to develop a joint SEZ program for SMEs.

“We can draw a good example from Kenya where SMEs have been deliberately integrated into the SEZ scheme through the “export business accelerator program”. SMEs are allowed to take up smaller spaces in incubator buildings located within SEZs.

“with the outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic and its grave economic consequences on the nations and individuals, there is no better time to seek for the emergence of geniuses and ideas that can help transform our common loss to sustainable gains in all field of human endeavors especially in the health and economic sectors among others.”

He explained that one of the strategies and measures to be adopted for export and industrial decentralization is increasing exports of manufactured goods through the promotion of economic zones with fiscal and financial incentives to industrial production.

“The national objectives for the adoption of the export processing zones scheme include promotion of job and wealth creation; foreign direct investment; technology transfer, foreign exchange earnings; backward integration/ linkages, and the government and NEPZA are fully committed to achieving this onerous mission.

“Since inception, many other zones have been established. As of December 2020, a total number of 43 zones has been established and now at different stages of development and operation.

“It is now possible to have an SEZ where all kinds of economic activities can take place including but not limited to manufacturing, processing, trading, services, educational, health and other kinds of ancillary business activities,” he stated.

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