Nigeria’s investments in the 44 free trade zones across the country currently stand at over $27 billion, the Managing Director, Nigeria Export Promotion Zone Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, has said .
He said the investments are expected to further spur economic diversification and job creation for the youths, adding that but for the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dangote Refinery would have commenced operations and opened up the economy quicker and better.
Adesugba, who made this known when Taraba State Governor, Dairus Ishaku visited him in Abuja, said the Authority has concluded arrangements to establish the NEPZA/Taraba State Committee.
The Committee is to work out modalities on how best to promote investments in the agriculture, mining and tourism sectors with a view to creating employment, and increasing internally-generated revenues for the state in particular and Nigeria in general.
While assuring the Governor of the Authority’s commitment to establishing a Special Economic Zone in Taraba, Adesugba urged the Governor to, as a matter of urgency, put in place an investment promotion commission to facilitate the development of the region.
He said: “NEPZA will ensure that the potential of mining, agriculture and tourism available in the state are fully tapped for the benefit of all. We are going ahead to ensure the provision of infrastructure in all the free trade zones across Nigeria, including the proposed establishment of a free trade zone in Taraba State.”
He also assured that NEPZA is going ahead to assist in establishing medical tourism to reduce the over $1billion that is spent yearly by Nigerians on medical tourism.
Responding, Governor Ishaku explained that the government recently set aside over $1 billion to quickly develop her airport runway to help accelerate foreign direct investments (FDIs) into the state.
Ishaku stressed that the project is billed to kick off next year, adding: “We are here at the NEPZA headquarters to solicit advice, support and guidance so that we can immediately kick-start the development of our mining, agriculture and tourism sectors with the aim of creating jobs for our teeming youths and spur our IGR.”
“I can without doubts tell you that Taraba State will be able to generate well over $1 billion yearly from mining, agriculture and tourism if our economic zone is fully developed. Today, we have already engaged over 1,000 youths through agriculture, but we need more. As I speak with you, we are ready to develop these potential spreads across three different locations in my state.”
He added that “There is an urgent need to establish industries to get our youths out of unemployment. The lessons we just learnt from the immediate EndSARs protests is a dangerous case in study; there is an urgent need to create jobs for our people, to enable us restore peace to the states and Nigeria as a whole.”