The Managing Director/Chief Executive, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, has said he is prepared to canvass for the adoption of export business accelerator programme to speedily integrate the country’s small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) into the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) scheme for the benefit of the country.
Speaking while delivering a keynote address during the 2021 World Intellectual Property Day Symposium held virtually, Adesugba, also said a new SEZ model could be developed to allow the SMEs undertake ancillary activities within the established zones.
He said: “With more than 60 million Nigerians engaged in SMEs, the federal government will do good to consider the adoption of programs similar to Kenya’s to boost growth for these smaller companies.
“The management of NEPZA is willing to canvass the support and approval of Mr. President for definite and sustainable initiatives that can help in the growth and development of national economy through the robust participation of the SMEs.
“In line with our plans to develop sectorial SEZs for different industries such as Medical SEZ, Agro-allied, Textile, etc. We may seek a strategic alliance with SMEDAN and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to develop a joint SEZ program for SMEs.”
He said Nigeria could draw a good example from Kenya where SMEs have been deliberately integrated into the SEZ scheme through the export business accelerator programme where SMEs are allowed to take up smaller spaces in incubator buildings located within SEZs.
The NEPZA MD pointed out that with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its grave economic consequences on countries and individuals, there was no better time to seek for emergence of geniuses and ideas that can help transform common loss to sustainable gains in all field of human endeavours especially in the health and economic sectors among others.
He said one of the strategies and measures to be adopted for export and industrial decentralisation was increasing exports of manufactured goods through the promotion of economic zones with fiscal and financial incentives to industrial production.
Adesugba, reiterated that the federal government’s commitment to ensuring the sustenance of the zones scheme, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari’s special attention to the scheme rose from his conviction that the scheme had capacity to speed up the country’s industrialisation process.
He said: “The national objectives for the adoption of the export processing zones scheme include promotion of job and wealth creation; foreign direct investment; technology transfer; foreign exchange earnings; backward integration/ linkages, and the government and NEPZA are fully committed to achieving this onerous mission.
“Since inception many other zones have been established. As of December 2020, a total number of 43 zones has been established and now at different stages of development and operation.”
In a statement by Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA, Mr. Martins Odeh, Adesugba, said, “It is now possible to have an SEZ where all kinds of economic activities can take place including but not limited to manufacturing, processing, trading, services, educational, health and other kind of ancillary business activities.
“The choice of the theme for this year, IP and SMEs: Taking Your Ideas to Market, is not only timely, but also reflective of the global aspirations for every available solution to the various challenges facing the global communities.”