Nigeria’s Economic Free Zone in the oil and gas sector has created over 200,000 direct and indirect jobs since its establishment 1996. It also has the capacity to create millions of jobs and huge economic prosperity if stakeholders within the country and counterparts across Africa work together. Says the Managing Director/CEO of Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) in Nigeria, Sen. Tijjani Y. Kaura.
Senator Tijjani who said this in his opening remarks at the 30th anniversary conference of the Free Zones Scheme in Nigeria, tagged: “Nigeria Special Economic Zones Scheme: Evolvement, Challenges and Way Forward To Economic Growth and Sustainability”, on 30th November, 2022, noted that the objectives of the free zones scheme in first place was to drive industrialization through export promotion, technology, skills and knowledge transfer. Job creation, local and foreign direct investment attractiveness was among the objectives.
However, he noted though the scheme has recorded some achievements in Nigeria over the years, it also still lags in delivering key economic developmental indices compared to what has been attained by Free Zone schemes in other locations.
He went on to say; “ This conference offers us an opportunity to evaluate the status of the Free Zones Scheme, assess our performance since inception, and examine how we have evolved, then deliberate and collectively chart a growth-oriented approach to improving the scheme.
“One of the expected take-aways from this anniversary is for all stakeholders to deliberate and interact with the aim of evolving a sustainable strategic and perspective roadmap that will enhance the development and attractiveness of scheme in Africa.”
Expressing appreciation to his co–host of the conference; the Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Professor Adesoji Adesugba, the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Economic Zones Association (NEZA) Mr. Toyin Elegbede who also doubles as the Chairman of the Planning Committee, he said; “We are still open to partnership to develop the enormous potentials in the mid and downstream sectors in line with the Nigeria’s national development plan, with immediate emphasis on the Medium-Term National Development Plan,2021-2025, while providing model development centres for achieving the agenda 2063 of the African Union, in collaboration other international development partners.”
Also speaking at the opening session of the 7th Annual General Meeting of the African Economic Zones Organisation in Abuja, Senator Tijjani noted that Nigeria’s oil and gas free zones have in the past two decades, attracted over $16.6 billion USD of FDI and over N255 million of LDI