By G9ija

Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr Alex Okoh, has said that Federal Government’s desire to concession the Calabar and Kano Free Trade Zones (FTZs) is to enable them to catalyse business in the West African sub-region, through strategic production of goods and services that optimise the vast potential of the industrial axis of Cross River and the Kano States,

Speaking at a Roadshow organised by the Bureau in conjunction with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMIT&I) and Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Okoh noted that another expectation of the Federal Government is that the FTZs must move beyond the disjointed clusters of business premises to world-class special economic zones comparable to their counterparts globally.

According to the Director-General, the Roadshow was to showcase the Federal Government’s plan to unlock the potential of two of its assets through the injection of a private sector capital, as well as the deployment of technical expertise.

He commended the President Muhammadu Buhari led government for its willingness to improve its service delivery level and infrastructure stock by partnering with the private sector in a mutually beneficial relationship that would incentivise private sector investors and deliver economic benefits to the Nigerian people.

Ibeh, Uzoma Chidi, Head, Public Communications of the BPE said in a statement that Okoh recalled that the Bureau had in the last 18 months organised a series of webinars and investors’ fora targeted at the Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of government; the global investment community; financial institutions and other key stakeholders of the Federal Government’s policy directive on the administration of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in Nigeria.

The policy, he added, vests the BPE with the mandate to superintend all PPP infrastructure project procurements in Nigeria, in collaboration with the MDAs, who are the owners of the assets and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the regulator of concessions in Nigeria.

He said it was in that regard that the Bureau, desirous of showcasing the two government free trade zones that require private sector investment as well as the innovative capacity to unlock their full potential, has hitherto been sub-optimally utilised, organised the Roadshow.

While stating that the event provides an opportunity to not only showcase the two zones but also to interact with potential investors, receive some feedback and provide some clarifications as regards the transaction, Okoh added that the Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) were ongoing and would end on May 25, 2022.

He assured all stakeholders that activities leading to the successful conclusion of the two transactions would be carried out in line with best global practices, as well as the stipulated ICRC Guidelines.

Managing Director of NEPZA, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, who was represented by Director, Zones, Muazu Hadi Ruma, highlighted the significance of investing in the two FTZs and noted that free duty, tax exemptions and import substitution drive, among others, are some of the incentives and benefits of investing in the zones. He assured prospective concessionaires of a safe environment.

The transaction advisers of the FTZs, Ernst and Young, represented by Damilola Aloba, said the two-tier concession structure which involves a property holding company and the concessionaire would be adopted for the purpose of the transaction.

On key considerations and expected outcomes from the concession, he listed funding, rehabilitation, operations, technical know-how, managerial and administrative prowess and maintenance of the FTZs.

He pointed out that it has to do with remittances to the Federal Government over the concession period and the development of host communities.