July 22, 2020

Stakeholders advocate strategies for developing the oil and gas zones

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Prof Pat Utomi

Stakeholders have advocated for a Repositioning the Oil and Gas Free Zones for Global Competitiveness. Speaking at the Webinar organised by SING Nigeria, a good governance and accountability organisation, which partnered with other CSOs in her accountability project to engage Government.

During the webinar, Speakers called for an enabling environment that will promote competition for all operators to thrive in all oil and gas export free zone in line with global best practice.

The Speakers at webinar included Prof. Pat Utomi, Fr. Edward Obi, Mr. Willem Vermeer, Hon. Rimande S. Kwewum, Mr. Umana O. Umana, addressed various strategies that can assist the efforts of the Oil and Gas Free Zones, towards Repositioning it for Global Competitiveness.

Participants at the Webinar agreed that it is time for Nigeria to embrace local production since it is the heart of the growth of the economy, which can generate competitiveness. They further advocated that the Oil and Gas Free Zones should engage in peer review so as to learn from contemporaries in places like South East Asia.

They also advised that each Trade Zone should specialize in certain derivatives, while government Institutions should be strengthened in order to avoid hindrances to ease of doing business.

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The forum also urged the private sector to see it as a collective responsibility by working together to ensure that they are strong institutions.

While commending the Umana Umana led incumbent management of the OGFZA, the forum said that business in the Oil and Gas Free Zones should support a precautionary approach towards ensuring environmental standards, while stringent regimes of environmental regulations are enacted to punish or deter unfriendly activities in the ports and elsewhere, since the long term cost of dealing with environmental hazards is considered over short-term high revenue with respect to environmental hazards and degradation.

It was also suggested that Nigeria’s free trade zones should integrate its plan with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) of the African Union, while developing its opportunities in Agriculture, education, and others, as a spillover from Foreign Direct Investments.