7 August 2012

Africa: 48 Firms Inject N170bn in Lagos Free Zone

The Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ) has attracted a total of N170.5 billion investment commitment from 48 investors, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, has said.

Aganga noted that the LFTZ had all the features to make it one of the most successful Free Trade Zones in Africa.

He spoke during the LFTZ Investment Forum and opening ceremony of the Eko Expo 2012, in Lagos, at the weekend.

One of the top investors in the zone includes Puma Energy Free Zone Enterprise (FZE), which is investing in oil and gas terminal depot construction. The company, which has already commenced construction, is investing $400 million in the zone.

Others are Imad Oil and Gas FZE, which is investing $200 million; China Railway Construction Corporation ($50 million); and YFK Pharmaceutical FZE ($30 million), among others.

Aganga said: "The Lekki Free Trade Zone is indeed the biggest of the 19 Free Trade zones Chinese investors have presently outside China having all the features to make it one of the most successful Free Trade Zones in Africa.

"I have been informed by the Managing Director of the zone that about 48 investors have already committed to investing close to $1.1 billion in the zone.

"I, therefore salute the commitment of the major stakeholders in the LFTZ venture, the Lekki Worldwide Investment Limited, the China African Lekki Investment Limited, the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, and indeed, the host community. I also commend the staff and management of LFTZ for their hard work and dedication, which has helped to shape this ongoing success story," he said.

The minister added that, in line with the determination of President Goodluck Jonathan's administration to transform the Nigerian economy through sound and viable trade and investment policies, the Federal Government would support the Lagos State Government, the consortium of Chinese investors and other stakeholders in ensuring that the LFTZ was developed to attain its full potential.

He expressed satisfaction with the management's drive to attract significant investment into the zone, the technology it had brought and the jobs that had been created to date.

"In today's world, business relationships are symbiotic in nature. While we are expected to provide a conducive environment for investors, we also expect that investments coming to the zones will create jobs for Nigerians," he remarked.

He assured that the ministry of trade and investment will work with the African Free Trade Zone Association, through NEPZA, to provide the necessary facilities to support the operational efficiency of FTZs in the Nigeria in order to enhance the contribution of FTZs to the growth of the Nigerian economy.

Ho noted that FTZs globally, were known to have one of the largest job creation capacities according to records; for every job created in FTZs, two additional jobs are created through a multiplier process.

Speaking during the event, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State commended Aganga for his commitment to fast-tracking the completion of the LFTZ.

He said: "What we are seeing here today is the first tentative test for the implementation of the plan for the Lekki Free Trade Zone. The project will out-live many of us and will be a good legacy that our children will be proud of and thankful to those who visualised the project.

"The partnership we have with the Federal Government and the enthusiasm the Minister of Trade and Investment has shown towards the project is a very strong signal of our commitment to taking advantage of the investment opportunities in the state now."

He, however, said that there was a need for a direct gas pipe line into the zone for the generation of power, noting that this was a major requirement for the sustainability of the zone

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