The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority in a bid to establish Medical Special Economic Zones across the six geo-political zones of the country, has urged the Federal Executive Council to adopt the concept as a national project.
Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, the Managing Director of NEPZA made the remark while formally presenting the concept to the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo in Abuja.
Adesugba said the Authority in its attempt to use the zone scheme to fast track the country’s industrialization process found it expedient to extend such a mandate to scale-up the country’s healthcare system.
The NEPZA Chief Executive Officer, explained that it was important for the concept to be adopted by the Federal Executive Council as a national project, adding that such show of political-will was needed to ward-off the would-be investors’ fears and reservations.
The presentation provided a basis and justification for a notation to be made by the minister to FEC for buy-in and support to commence the project.
The NEPZA boss also provide introduction and rationale for the project based on the COVID-19 effect, adding that the prevalence of communicable and non-communicable diseases in a more threatening manner unequivocally necessitated the urgent need to improve and invest in the country’s healthcare.
He stated that the over $2bn capital flight on medical tourism annually was a needless because it was having a serious negative effect on the economy.
Adesugba, therefore, explained that the project when brought to limelight would invariably showcase Nigeria’s potential as a medical tourism destination.
He said, “The medical special economic zone remains a tool to reduce medical tourism and to reinstate buoyancy in our economy.”
He added, “Lagos, Kwara and Katsina States are waiting for the commencement of this great initiative. While Katsina is on the verge of allotting us 400 hectares of land near the Airport for this scheme, we have taken delivery of large sites in Lekki, Lagos and Kwara respectively.”
On his part, Adebayo expressed delight on this initiative and promised to take it to FEC for consideration.
The event was attended by Hajia Mariam Katagum, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, and other senior officials of the ministry and NEPZA.