The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, NEPZA, has thrown its weight behind the Ekiti State Government towards the establishment of Knowledge-based and Agricultural Special Economic Zone in the state.
Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, Managing Director of the Authority, expressed the willingness to license the proposed zone when Gov. Kayode Fayemi paid him a visit on Friday in Abuja according to a statement by the Head of Communications, NEPZA, Martins Odeh.
The NEPZA Chief Executive, who described the governor as a visionary leader, said “His Excellency, Governor Kayode Fayemi is a serious minded personality who gets things done once he sets his mind on them.”
He was quoted to have said: “Thank you sir for coming here. It is very important for us to realize that investments and industries are located in destinations, and in localities.
“ For us to be really industrialised, we have to go down to the basics, down to the local government, down to states.
“While the Federal Government will continue to assist and develop policies that will turn states to develop in terms of industrialisation, we should leverage on the special economic zones and free trade zones as have been successfully used in places like China, Dubai, Ethiopia and Turkey’’, the NEPZA boss said.
According to Adesugba, developing economies all over the world are using this strategy to fast track industrialisation and state governors should key into the scheme.
“I am not surprised that the government in 1992 thought it was a relevant strategy for the country to use. NEPZA will continue to partner with states such as yours to actualise the aspiration of establishing this well thought out Knowledge-based and Agricultural Special Economic Zone for the state.”
Adesugba further explained that it was evident that the governor had a clear understanding of how to utilize the strategy of the special economy zone to deepen the industrialisation of the state, adding that the Authority was open to supporting the process.
“Your Excellency, we have the possibility of having young people coming up if we can set up and have the environment with government supporting, ensuring that the necessary incentive are in place, the right infrastructure is put together and we make it a place of excellence and get other agencies to understand the import of what we are doing.
“Sir, I want to thank you and assure you that NEPZA will give you all the necessary support that we can monster to showcase what is possible with your ideas. We are ready to work with you. You can trust, we have a mandate and we will definitely achieve our objective’’, the managing director said.
Earlier, the governor expressed delight to meet with the NEPZA boss, a visit he said, was an opportunity to congratulate him on his new appointment.
Fayemi said NEPZA was a very critical vehicle in the country’s quest to attract investments, local production, industrialization as revenue generation through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
“ We all talk about Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) all the time, we all talk about creating an enabling environment, but to ensure that these happen, we must think outside of the box in order to drive the process in our localities. It is indeed crucial that we recognise and disaggregate those investments in terms of sub-national opportunities at the state level.
“ For us in Ekiti we arguably have comparative advantages in the areas of scholarship and agriculture. We are very keen in our knowledge economic agenda to have a status of a special economic zone which is going to be the first service oriented zone.
“There are other types of economic and free trade zones that NEPZA are licensees and authorizes but a service zone that is based on knowledge is not common and for us in Ekiti, that is what we sell’’, Fayemi said.
The governor further explained that: “the state is known as the Fountain of Knowledge and there must be a way to turn knowledge into wealth. What the Covid-19 has done to us is for us to begin to see economic diversities as opportunities and to exploit them’’.
“That really is the purpose for our proposed knowledge zone which sits within our education quadrangle. For us in Ekiti, this is the ministry that we have a stake in, it is a wonderful opportunity for us in Ekiti to engage with you and your team’’, Fayemi said.
According o him, the zone will be one that is primarily directed to a knowledge economy, knowledge production and knowledge generation for the country.
“We also intend to use the scheme to elevate the status of our agriculture where all the value chains would be harnessed for greater benefit of the people’’, the governor said.
Fayemi also said: “these are the products we have to sell to the world in Ekiti, therefore, we will like you to assist us in deepening our opportunities in this regard. That is what has brought me, in addition to congratulating you on your worthy appointment as chief executive of this very important agency of government.”