The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), has said the nation’s Free Zones generated and remitted N11.11 trillion to the federation account as of October 2023 last year.

Infinity Tyres

The Managing Director, NEPZA, Olufemi Ogunyemi, stated this during an oversight visit of the members of the Senate Committee on Industry, Trade and Investment in Abuja.

According to him, this development underscores the importance of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the country.

The Nigerian special economic zones scheme, governed by the NEPZA Act, allows for public, private, or public-private operations in these zones.

The MD said the zones had facilitated wealth and revenue generation for various states and agencies.

“In 2023 alone, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) generated N59.38 billion, Immigration Services received N828.7 million, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) garnered N8.738 billion, and states collected N998 million in payee.

“Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and Local Direct Investments (LDIs) from 2019 to 2023 have reached $491.8 million and N1.15 trillion respectively.

“The Free Zones have also significantly contributed to import substitution, with more than N1.62 trillion worth of cargo imported from these zones between 2019 and 2023, saving scarce foreign exchange,” he explained.

However, he said the direct employment generated by the zones stands at 38,429 jobs, with an additional 172,930 indirect jobs created by the end of 2023.

He said the scheme had also fostered skills development, with many semi-trained artisans gaining the expertise to start their ventures.

He added that in spite of these successes, the authority was being faced with challenges such as an obsolete legal framework, adding that they faced regulatory incursions, numerous invitations from the National Assembly, and conflicting legislation, such as the Finance Act and Customs Act.

He hinted that the support of the Senate Committee on Industries, Trade and Investment to address these challenges and enhance the SEZ scheme’s effectiveness.

While reiterating the transformative potential of SEZs, he pointed out that the economic successes of nations like China and the UAE, advocating continued and strengthened implementation in Nigeria.

The NEPZA boss also restated the authority’s commitment to boosting the country’s economy.

Responding, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment, Sen. Sadiq Umar, reaffirmed the NASS’s commitment to driving the mandate of NEPZA.

On the legal framework, he said, “if it is brought as an executive bill, I will be happy to sponsor it as my bill, but it has to conform with what I believe a bill should be.”