Ekiti State gets NEPZA nod to establish agro economic zone
Ekiti State has been given the approval to establish a knowledge-based and agriculture special economic zone by the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA).
The move is aimed at better harnessing the State’s comparative advantage in the areas of scholarship and agriculture, making it the first service-oriented zone in Nigeria.
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, made this known when he paid a courtesy visit to NEPZA Managing Director, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, in Abuja.
NEPZA in a statement, quoted Governor Fayemi as saying: “We all talk about Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) all the time, we all talk about creating an enabling environment, but to ensure that these happen, we must think outside of the box in order to drive the process in our localities. It is indeed crucial that we recognize and disaggregate those investments in terms of sub-national opportunities at the state level. For us in Ekiti, we arguably have comparative advantages in the areas of scholarship and agriculture; we are very keen in our knowledge economic agenda to have a status of a special economic zone, which is going to be the first service-oriented zone.
“The state is known as the Fountain of Knowledge, and there must be a way to turn knowledge into wealth. What the Covid-19 has done to us is for us to begin to see economic diversities as opportunities and to exploit them, that really is the purpose for our proposed knowledge zone, which sits within our education quadrangle. For us in Ekiti, this is the Ministry that we have a stake in; it is a wonderful opportunity for us to engage with you and your team.”
He added that the state also intends to use the scheme to elevate the status of its agriculture potential where all value chains would be harnessed for greater benefit of the people.
Fayemi remarked, “These are the products we have to sell to the world in Ekiti, therefore, we will like you to assist us in deepening our opportunities in this regard. That is what has brought me, in addition to congratulating you on your worthy appointment as Chief Executive of this very important agency of government.”
Responding, Prof. Adesugba expressed the agency’s willingness to licence the proposed zone, saying, “For us to be really industrialized, we have to go down to the basics, down to the local governments, down to states. While the Federal government will continue to assist and develop policies that will turn states to develop in terms of industrialization, we should leverage the special economic zones and free trade zones as have been successfully used in places like China, Dubai, Ethiopia and Turkey.”
He noted that developing economies all over the world are using this strategy to fast track industrialization, urging state governors to key into the scheme.
Adesugba was quoted: “I am not surprised that the government in 1992 thought it was a relevant strategy for the country to use. NEPZA will continue to partner with states such as yours to actualize the aspiration of establishing this well thought out Knowledge-based and Agricultural Special Economic Zone in your state.”
He said it was evident that the Governor had a clear understanding of how to utilize the strategy of the special economic zone to deepen the industrialization of the state, adding that the Authority was open to supporting the process.
“Your Excellency, we have the possibility of having young people coming up if we can set up and have the environment with government supporting, ensuring that the necessary incentives are in place, the right infrastructure is put together, and we make it a place of excellence and get other agencies to understand the import of what we are doing.”
He said that although there are other types of economic and free trade zones that NEPZA have licensed and authorized, but a service zone that is based on knowledge is not common.
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