The Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, Mr. Emmanuel Jime, has said that for Nigeria to attract foreign investors, it must develop its infrastructure.
Jime, who stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, said Nigeria’s huge population alone would not attract foreign investors.
The NEPZA boss lamented that most foreign investors preferred Ghana to Nigeria because of the shortage of infrastructure in the country
According to him, because of the dearth of infrastructure, only 14 out of Nigeria’s 34 free trade zones are functional.
The NEPZA managing director said the Muhammadu Buhari administration was determined to change the fortunes of the free trade zones.
Explaining activities of his agency, Jime stated, “When I came into office, I took a tour of all the free trade zones in the country. As at last count, we have 34 free trade zones, but in truth less than 14 of those free trade zones are operating maximally.”
He attributed the low level of activities at the free trade zones to dearth of infrastructure, adding that for Nigeria to compete with other countries, adequate amenities must be provided at the zones.
He stated, “One of the things a free trade zone is meant to provide is an environment in which business can be done at a lesser cost. For you to do business at a lesser cost, it means there ought to be things in the free trade zone that are not found elsewhere. We are talking about infrastructure. There has to be power for 24 hours, otherwise it is not a free trade zone. There has to be water. We must have road network.”
“Most of the investors, who want to come to Africa, the first thing they think about is Ghana. That must call for a great concern for us. I hear a lot of people say Nigeria has a huge market. We are getting to 200 million.
“We keep talking about how big the Nigeria market is, but we have to recognise, ladies and gentlemen, that there are partnerships and platforms that have been put in place that will enable a businessman to put up his factory in Accra and still access the Nigerian market.”
Jime cited the United States’ African Growth and Opportunity Act and the Economic Community of West African States as examples of platforms, through which goods manufactured in Ghana could get into the Nigerian market.
Jime stated that there was no way free trade zones could function effectively if there was no “good synergy between NEPZA and relevant government agencies.”