By Emeka Anaeto
AHEAD of Nigeria’s recovery from economic recession, the new management at the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA), last weekend indicated that it has concluded plans to rev up investments in the oil and gas free zones in the country by 50 per cent in the next three years.
The oil and gas free zones attract and concentrate local and foreign direct investments to the designated zones where the investors enjoy special international status with incentives and operating environment at global best standards.
Managing director of OGFZA, Mr Umana Okon Umana, who made this disclosure in an interaction with newsmen at the agency’s headquarters in Onne, Rivers State, stated that the targets were part of its recently unveiled 3-year strategic roadmap.
He said the roadmap reflected the vision of the OGFZA to be the premier agency of government for the promotion of investment in the nation’s oil and gas free zones.
The targeted growth rate, according to him, would cover the value of new investments, number of new companies attracted and zones created as well as revenue to the federal government and employment generation.
Presently the value of investments in the zones is about $20 billion, while the number of companies is about 140 with total employment of about 200,000.
On the revenue side Umana stated that between January 2010 and December 2015, the Nigerian Custom Service generated revenue of N143.2 billion from the oil and gas free zones alone, while the Nigerian Ports Authority generated$2.1 billion and N19.3 billion also from the oil and gas free zones.
In the opening drives towards the new goals the agency has re-developed its website for a more effective communication of the investment opportunities in the zones, while the addition of a biweekly newsletter now enhances interaction with existing and prospective investors.
Umana said the agency’s drive for new investments would be facilitated by a corporate culture of integrity, respect for investors and due process, transparency and accountability, as well as passion for and customer-centric engagement with investors.
Commends NASS for amending enabling laws
Meanwhile, Umana has commended the National Assembly for taking steps to amend the principal Acts of both the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) and OGFZA.
Umana said his expectation was that when the amendments are passed they would remove imperfections in the two laws, thereby putting both OGFZA and NEPZA on the path to fulfilling their mandates for the good of the economy and benefit of all Nigerians.
Umana said efforts to amend the laws have come at the right time when the Federal Government is focused on the drive to diversify the economy. He explained that while the amendments would deepen specialization and efficiency in the oil and gas sector, they are at the same time expected to strongly encourage investment in the non-oil sector.