The World Bank and the International Financial Cooperation (IFC) have announced their intentions to partner with relevant agencies in the development of the Akwa Ibom Free Trade Zone project.
The institutions made their intentions known through a delegation sent from the Bretton Woods institution and IFC to pay a courtesy visit to Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) boss, Mr Bitrus Dawuk in Abuja.
The leader of the delegation, Mr Feyi Boroffice pointed out that certain massive projects in the country could not be possible without international collaborations. He shed light on how the World Bank had been part of the Dangote Refinery and fertilizer plant project in Ibeju Lekki and suggested replication of such massive projects across other zones in the federation.
“We are also very interested in the Akwa Ibom Free Trade Zone project which we understand is under your authority’s supervision as we appeal to you and the authority to give us the opportunity to participate in the project for the total economic benefit of Nigeria,” Boroffice said.
He noted that the multi-billion-dollar zone in Lekki was witnessing huge economic activities with zones and investors, a project he said would not have been possible without such partnerships.
Boroffice harped on the need for a legal framework across the zones to improve the union between NEPZA and the World Bank and encourage foreign investors to replicate projects of great economic impact across the country.
Dawuk, in his response, told the delegation that the NEPZA’s obsolete legislation as contained in the 1992 establishment decree, was currently undergoing amendments by the National Assembly, to remove the bottlenecks militating against optimal performance of existing economic zones.
He added: “NEPZA is ever ready to work with the World Bank and the IFC in giving Nigeria a world class free zones as there are already measures in place to review the outdated regulations of NEPZA to make it more favourable for Foreign Investors to come in and invest in the country.”
Dawuk noted that he hopes to attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs) to the economy through a new partnership with the World Bank and the International Financial Cooperation (IFC), and boost infrastructural development of free trade zones across the country.
What you should know: The IFC representative, Bambo Kunle-Salami, said what the World Bank does is to provide funding and advice to the public sector and government while IFC focuses on providing funding and financial advice to the private sector, the same thing the World Bank does for the public sector.
Active for over three decades, the IFC has partnered with and financed projects in Nigeria including the Dangote cement plant which was done at a time the country had little or no cement capacity.