By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The federal government yesterday in Abuja signed $30 billion agreement with investment partners to foster industrial revolution in the country and boost export earnings from made in Nigeria products.
Tagged Made in Nigeria for Exports (MINE) project, the agreement which was signed in the Council Chambers of the State House, marked the formal preparation for the take-off of Nigeria industrial revolution plan as conceived in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
The investment partners who co-signed the agreement with the federal government were Africa Export and Import Bank (AFREXIM), Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), African Development Bank (AFDB), Bank of Industry (BOI), Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
The project has designated three places in different parts of the country as special economic zones (SEZ) for the take-off of the project. The three places were named as Enyimba Economic City, in Abia State, Funtua Cotton Cluster in Katsina State and Lekki Model IIn his speech at the signing ceremony, President Muhammadu Buhari said Project MINE was conceived to position Nigeria as the pre-eminent manufacturing hub in Sub-Saharan Africa and a major exporter of made in Nigeria products to the West African sub-region, the entire Africa and the World.
The president also said the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) project had been championed by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelahmah but under his direct supervision.
He submitted that the project was designed to boost the country’s manufacturing share of the gross domestic product (GDP) to the tune of 20 per cent, generate $30 billion in annual export earnings and create 1.5 million jobs by 2025.
According to him, to achieve these objectives, the federal government was offering investor- friendly incentives, up-to-date infrastructure and ease of doing business with a view to attracting local and foreign investments.
He also said the project would serve as a catalyst for rapid and inclusive industrialisation, job creation and diversified export earnings in countries with exemplary development records. The president also disclosed that the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited had been set up by the federal government to drive the expansion of the initiative and ensure the participation of public private partnerships involving federal and state governments as well as local and foreign private investors in the project.
He called for the intervention of experienced special economic zone developers and operators for a partnership with the federal government with the overall goal of upgrading the existing free trade zones in Calabar and Kano owned by the federal government.
The president who said the expert developers would be expected to offer what he described as first-class standards of infrastructure and facilities, added that the Federal Executive Council had already approved the award of contracts in excess of N19.45 billion for the investment in Calabar and Kano Free Trade Zones.
He said, “Under my direct supervision, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment is implementing Project MINE – Made in Nigeria for Exports – as a Presidential special priority intervention using Special Economic Zones to achieve the objectives of: boosting manufacturing’s share of GDP to 20%, generating $30bn in annual export earnings; and creating 1.5 million new jobs all by 2025.In order to achieve these ambitious objectives, we are implementing a comprehensive plan including but not limited to the following:
“We have set up the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited as a vehicle for participating in Public Private Partnerships involving Federal and State governments and local and foreign private investors. This company will develop new Special Economic Zones all over the country, offering advanced infrastructure and facilities at competitive costs. The projects in the pilot phase include Enyimba Economic City, Funtua Cotton Cluster and Lekki Model Industrial Park.
“We are inviting experienced Special Economic Zone developers and operators to partner with us to upgrade the Federal Government owned Free Trade Zones in Calabar and Kano, to offer first-class standards of infrastructure and facilities. Whilst we await the completion of the process of bringing in these investors, the Federal Executive Council has approved the award of contracts in excess of N19.45 billion for the needed investment in Calabar and Kano Free Trade Zones and work is currently ongoing. This is the highest amount of capital investment ever in the history of these zones.
“We have allocated substantial funds to upgrade the capabilities of management and the systems in the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, to strengthen it as a regulator of our Special Economic Zones. We are allocating substantial resources to the provision of ‘outside the fence’ infrastructure to ensure that our Special Economic Zones are connected to global, regional and domestic markets.
“We are reviewing our incentive framework to ensure competitiveness relative to the other countries with whom we are in the race to attract export oriented global manufacturing investment.
“We will extend the early successes we have achieved in Ease of Doing Business to the areas critical to globally competitive export-oriented manufacturing operations.
“Today, we are here to witness the signing of investment agreements, following which the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited will become fully operational. I will like to use this opportunity to thank our investment partners – Africa Export and Import Bank (AFREXIM); Africa Finance Corporation (AFC); Bank of Industry (BOI); Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA); and the African Development Bank (AFDB) for their strong demonstrations of support for this important initiative.”