Kano Free Trade Zone: A tool for rapid industrialization
From Atiku Sarki, Abuja
There is no doubt that the present government under President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to provide the enabling environment, infrastructure and regulating framework for Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) to move Nigeria to the next level through rapid industrialization.
The Authority being an Industrial Development Agency under the Federal Government with its strategic mandate of promoting and facilitating both local and foreign investments into the country, had before now, after 25 years of existence, been given less attention by the past administrations.
Also, in line with the mandate, mission and vision to help Nigeria’s industrialization drive, the Kano Free Trade Zone (KFTZ) which was established in 1998 under General Sani Abacha with 232 hectares of land has unique opportunities for both local and international investors to set up their industries and businesses at a low cost.
The zone, which is also located near Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) and connected to the big commercial centre of Kano, will not only solve the problems associated with companies’ capital intensive needs, but will also address the challenges of infrastructural development, create jobs for Nigerian youths and increase revenue generation for economic development of the country.
It is interesting to note that with the presidential capital vote of N100billion budget allocated to NEPZA in 2017 and 2018, the infrastructural transformation and renewal and upgrading of Kano Free Trade Zone were started as one of the Federal Government’s owned Free Trade Zones in the country.
Before the present government took over in 2015, the highest capital votes NEPZA would ever receive from the Federal Government was N2billion but the story is different today as the Federal Government through NEPZA, Kano Free Trade Zone is achieving greater success.
Speaking to newsmen on the massive development in the Zone, the General Manager of the Zone, Hajiya Yagana Abba Hassan explained that the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has given more attention on infrastructural development.
She said the Federal Government in 2016 and 2017 budget allocated billions of Naira for infrastructural development including power, water, road networks and ware houses which she said are at the developmental stages.
According to Hajiya Hassan, ‘’Things are really working in the Zone and a lot of investors are coming because they heard that the Federal Government is giving the Zone more attention and money has been pumped in so as to promote the Zone.
She also explained that in various sectors of the economy, some companies are already operational in the Zone which she said include Marshall Biscuits, Afrique Ventures among several others.
The Acting Managing Director of NEPZA, Engr. Terhemba Nongo who also recently in Abuja told newsmen that with the mandate, mission and vision of his Authority to help Nigeria’s industrialization drive and with the Presidential support, it is achieving greater success.
Engr. Nongo added: ‘’We may not be where we wanted to be at this time, but we are certainly not where we started. And with the renewal interest in NEPZA, particularly in terms of enhanced budgetary allocation, it is set to take the scheme to the next level.’’
The Acting Managing Director of NEPZA saw the need for Nigerians to look in the direction of United Arab Emirates and China and see what both countries have used the free zone innovation to change their economic landscapes.
In their oversight functions, the House Committee members on Industry, Trade and Investment in the National Assembly had paid a visit to the Zone recently and commended the management of NEPZA under the Acting Managing Director, Engr. Terhemba Nongo for the level of ongoing work in the Zone.