John Ameh, Abuja
The Presidency on Wednesday made a clarification on the status of Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited or Nigeria Special Economic Zones Company Limited, saying that it was an incorporated special purpose vehicle to drive Made in Nigeria products for exports.
It stated that NZESCO/Project MINE (Made in Nigeria for Exports) was a presidential initiative to achieve the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery & Growth Plan by developing Special Economic Zones for the country’s envisaged industrial revolution.
NZESCO has lately generated controversies, forcing the Presidency to make the clarification last night.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, made explanations on the intentions of the government.
It said partly, “Project MINE was envisioned by the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment to develop SEZs to world-class standards and position Nigeria as the pre-eminent manufacturing hub in sub-Saharan Africa and a major exporter of made in Nigeria goods and services regionally and globally.
“Indeed, Project MINE was necessitated by the following factors: Lack of operating competitiveness that limits the growth of the zones, despite the presence of generous fiscal and regulatory incentives. For government-owned SEZs, there were limited Federal budget allocations to make the required investments in infrastructure, operations and management services;
“The need to develop the skills and experience to operate and manage the zones to world-class standards of efficiency; the absence of a deliberate strategy to attract investors, create clusters or encourage the development of local value chains using SEZs, and, therefore, the lack of appropriate link between the industrialisation strategy of the government and the Free Trade Zones.
“Project Mine, therefore, seeks to achieve the following specific objectives: Support structural transformation of the Nigerian economy by increasing the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP to 20 per cent by 2029; contribute to sustainable inclusive growth by creating 1.5 million new direct manufacturing jobs in the initial phase of Project MINE; increase and diversify foreign exchange earnings to at least $30bn annually by 2029, by increasing manufacturing sector exports;
“Create local models of global best practice in the provision of world-class infrastructure at competitive costs connecting SEZs to international and regional markets with transport links, uninterrupted power, Information and Communications Technology, water, sewage and other services to ensure smooth and efficient operation of SEZ business.”
The Presidency added that as of June 2018, the Federal Executive Council had approved NSEZCO “with the endorsement of the Economic Management Team, as the holding entity for FGN investments and proprietary interests in existing and future SEZs.”
It explained further, “The FEC approval also provides that all current and future capital appropriation for Project MINE should be transferred to NSEZCO’s account, as soon as opening formalities are completed.
“With the formalities completed, NSEZCO became the platform through which Federal Government’s capital budget appropriation for SEZs are converted into long-term value creating investments.
“NSEZCO is a public-private partnership (PPP) company to operate world-class standards of governance and management, to facilitate mobilisation of capital and other resources from PPP partners, in order to overcome budgetary constraints to the provision of critical infrastructure for SEZs.”
The statement also gave the shareholding at the moment, saying, “By aggregating and harnessing FG’s investment in a strong corporate special purpose vehicle, NSEZCO will facilitate the mobilisation of additional capital from development finance institutions (DFIs) and private investors. Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) is the shareholder, holding the FG’s interest of 25 per cent in NSEZCO. The balance of 75 per cent is currently held in trust on behalf of other prospective shareholders, pending completion of investors’ diligence and documentation and approval procedures.”
On what the government had done so far with NSEZCO, the Presidency said, “On 8 February 2019, NSEZCO signed investment agreements with three Development Finance Institutions: Afreximbank, Bank of Industry, the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and Ministry of Finance Incorporated for their investment in NSEZCO at a ceremony presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
“Africa Finance Corporation and African Development Bank which are still in the preliminary stages of their internal approval processes were also in attendance as observers.
“President Buhari said at the signing ceremony that: “When we committed to the implementation of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan and launched our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan to fast track implementation, we had a vision of Nigeria as the pre-eminent manufacturing hub in Sub-Saharan Africa and a major exporter to our immediate West African sub-region, the rest of Africa and indeed the World.”
“Already, NSEZCO is mobilising capital from the Federal Government and the development finance institution shareholders, for the development of Special Economic Zones across Nigeria.
“Pilot projects in the first phase are Enyimba Economic City, Abia State, Lekki Model Industrial Park, Lagos State and Funtua Cotton Cluster, Katsina State. In addition, pre-development studies are on-going in Benue, Kwara and Sokoto States whilst studies will soon commence in Ebonyi, Edo and Gombe States amongst others.”