By Victoria Ojeme
The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, NEPZA, and the Ekiti State Government have agreed on a 2-week deadline to submit a Technical Report on the proposed ‘Knowledge and Technology Free Trade Zone’ to be established in Ado Ekiti.
The two parties agreed on the February 7, 2023 deadline submission of the report after NEPZA officials led by its Managing Director/CEO, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba conducted a preliminary inspection of the site and other associated infrastructure on Thursday in Ado Ekiti.
Adesugba, during a session with the State Governor, Gov. Abiodun Oyebanji, said the free trade zone would be used to revolutionise the state.
The NEPZA boss explained that the state had the required background to venture into this specialised ecosystem, adding that the state now appeared decisive to harness its individuals with high academic and technological endowment for profitability.
He said the Authority was prepared to assist the state to achieve its goal of developing the first knowledge and virtual-based free zone in Africa.
According to him, “NEPZA is now very dynamic and innovative in the way and manner it encourages the establishment of free zones in the country. This is a deliberate move by the Federal Government to help boost trade and investments across the 36 states of the Federation, and the FCT.
“The Governor and I have, therefore, agreed to give a two-week deadline for the submission of the Technical Report after a more detailed inspection is carried out by NEPZA officials in collaboration with other technical partners. Precisely, we shall be looking to have this report on February 7, 2023 for onward transmission for presidential declaration.
On his part, the governor expressed profound delight in NEPZA’s visit to evaluate the capacity of the state to own and manage a free zone.
Oyebanji explained that the visit was a follow-up to his courtesy call on the managing director of the Authority where he sought the support and guidance of the Authority in setting up the Knowledge and Technology Free Zone that will attract wealth and prosperity to the state.
He said, “We have campaigned on a mantra of shared prosperity, so that we will be less dependent on sharing from the monthly federation account. It is our goal to drive development in the state either with or without FAC.
“My exposure to the Lekki Free Trade Zone corridor is an eye opener and we shall fulfill all the technical requirements to ensure we scale through the various stages of approvals.”
In a related development, the Authority has also agreed to commence technical inspection of the Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) for a free zone status.
Adesugba, after an on-the-spot assessment of the university, Afe Babalola Farm and Afe Babalola Industrial Park, said the ABUAD Joint Venture was on the verge of showing how university and industry could be operated to benefit the country.
He said, “We have seen the capacity of this institution, a different kind of university that is committed to nation building. Our technical officers shall commence evaluation of these entities for a free zone status.
“Imagine the huge business opportunities that await investors and the good people of this state when these two proposed free zones are approved and become operational.”
Chief Afe Babalola, Founder of ABUAD explained that the university and its adjoined businesses could become the next business revelation for the country if given the free zone status.
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