By Emmanuella Anokam
Abuja, April 28, 2021 The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has expressed readiness to canvass for adoption of “export business accelerator programme’’ to integrate Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) into Special Economic Zones (SEZs) scheme.
Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, NEPZA’s Managing Director, said this while delivering a keynote address during the 2021 World Intellectual Property Day Symposium held virtually.
Adesugba, in a statement on Wednesday by Mr Martins Odeh, Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA said the programme would be for greater good of the country’s business environment.
“With more than 60 million Nigerians engaged in SMEs, the Federal Government will do good to consider the adoption of programmes similar to Kenya’s, to boost growth for these smaller companies.
“The management of NEPZA is willing to canvass the support and approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, for definite and sustainable initiatives for 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 seek collaboration.
“We may seek a strategic alliance with Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council to develop a joint SEZ programme for SMEs.
“We can draw a good example from Kenya, where SMEs have been deliberately integrated into the SEZ scheme through the “export business accelerator programme”.
SMEs are allowed to take up smaller spaces in incubator buildings located within SEZs,” NEPZA boss said.
He said a new SEZs model could be developed to allow the SMEs undertake ancillary activities within the established zones.
Adesugba said with consequences of COVID-19, there is no better time to seek for geniuses and ideas that could help transform common loss to sustainable gains in all fields of human endeavour especially in health and economic sectors among others.
According to him, one of the strategies to be adopted for export and industrial decentralisation is 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 ensure the sustenance of the zones scheme could not be doubted.
He added 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.
“The national objectives for the adoption of the export processing zones scheme include promotion of job and wealth creation; foreign direct investment and technology transfer.
“The objectives also include foreign exchange earnings and backward integration/ linkages.
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,” the NEPZA managing director said.
The Chief Executive Officer further said that the SEZs variant allowed for a more comprehensive and all-inclusive economic zone model.
According to him, it is now possible to have an SEZ where all kinds of economic activities can take place 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’’, he said.