Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will soon be co-opted into the special economic zones in order to bolster growth in the Nigerian economy.
This was disclosed by the MD, Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, in his keynote address at the 2021 World Intellectual Property Day Symposium which was virtually held.
According to Adesugba, “With more than 60 million Nigerians engaged in SMEs, the Federal Government will do good to consider the adoption of programs similar to Kenya’s to boost growth for these smaller companies.
“ The management of NEPZA is willing to canvass the support and approval of Mr. President for definite and sustainable initiatives that can help in the growth and development of national economy through the robust participation of the SMEs.
“In line with our plans to develop sectorial SEZs for different industries such as Medical SEZ, Agro-allied, Textile, etc. We may seek a strategic alliance with SMEDAN and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to develop a joint SEZ program for SMEs.
“We can draw a good example from Kenya where SMEs have been deliberately integrated into the SEZ scheme through the “export business accelerator program.
SMEs are allowed to take up smaller spaces in incubator buildings located within SEZs’’, NEPZA boss said.
Lamenting the negative consequences of the pandemic, he said, “With the outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic and its grave economic consequences on the nations and individuals, there is no better time to seek for emergence of geniuses and ideas that can help transform our common loss to sustainable gains in all field of human endeavours especially in the health and economic sectors among others’’.
He maintained that one of the smartest strategies to accelerate exports is to increase the ”…exports of manufactured goods through the promotion of economic zones with fiscal and financial incentives to industrial production.”
“The national objectives for the adoption of the export processing zones scheme include promotion of job and wealth creation; foreign direct investment; technology transfer; foreign exchange earnings; backward integration/ linkages, and the government and NEPZA are fully committed to achieving this onerous mission.
“Since inception many other zones have been established. As of December 2020, a total number of 43 zones has been established and now at different stages of development and operation’’, the NEPZA managing director said.
Elaborating on the SEZ variant, the Chief Executive Officer further said that, “It is now possible to have an SEZ where all kinds of economic activities can take place including but not limited to manufacturing, processing, trading, services, educational, health and other kind of ancillary business activities.
“The choice of the theme for this year, IP and SMEs: Taking Your Ideas to Market, is not only timely, but also reflective of the global aspirations for every available solution to the various challenges facing the global communities’’, the NEPZA CEO said.
Azuka Edokobi is a Writer and Entrepreneur