The Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) on Wednesday said it attracted a total investment commitment of $15.97 billion from new and existing investors in five of the oil and gas-free trade zones between 2021 and 2025.
Tijjani Kaura, the managing director/chief executive officer of the authority, disclosed this at a maiden media parley in Abuja on Wednesday.
OGFZA is the government agency responsible for promoting, securing and sustaining investments in the oil-and gas-free zones in the country.
Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Kaura said OGFZA has gained 27 years of experience in regulating the petroleum sector special economic zones and has, within this period, achieved monumental successes.
Currently, he said OGFZA regulates eight free zones, and six of them are fully operational, while processes towards the taking off of two are at various stages of completion.
“I am happy to inform you that these zones are evolving well and are making impact contributions to our country’s economy.
“Between 2021 and 2025, OGFZA attracted a total investment commitment of $15.97 billion from new and existing investors in five oil and gas-free zones,” Mr Kaura said.
He explained that the Brass oil and gas free zone proposed an investment of $3 billion; Notore oil and gas free zone proposed an investment of $5.35 billion; Liberty oil and gas free zone proposed an investment of $6.4 billion; Bestaf maritime and industry OGFZA proposed investment $485 million; and OGFZA-SBA free zone proposed investment of $738 million.
He added that the oil and gas free zones authority had recorded real quantitative achievements that have contributed significantly to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the last two decades, especially in three key indices.
“These key indices include the Foreign direct investment (FDI) of $21.6 billion between 2001 – 2021, Technical skills transferred to Nigerians 35,330 between 2001 – 2021, and the number of Nigerians who have secured various levels of direct employment are 41, 085 persons and 164,000 indirect employments within the same period,” he said.
In revenue generation to the government, Mr Kaura said OGFZA activities accounted for the following revenue to the federal government between 2018 to 2021.
“Customs duty generated N119 billion (Goods exported from the free zones to customs territory).
“Withholding tax of N10.4 billion was generated (Transactions carried out between free zones enterprises and non-free zone licenses) while value-added tax (VAT) of N9.5 billion was generated (Transactions carried out between free zone enterprises and non-free zone licenses),” he said.
As an agency of the federal government, he said the authority contributes to reducing the federal government’s personnel and overhead costs by offering to become a partially self-funding agency since January 2021, thereby saving the federal government over N2.3 billion annually.
Mr Kaura explained that one of the major challenges bedevilling the free zones activities is the deplorable state of the Port Harcourt-Onne Junction of the East-West Road.
He explained that this section of the East-West road provides access to major oil and gas free zones and other national strategic investments of national economic importance, including the Onne oil and gas free zone, Notore industrial complex, Eleme refinery, Indorama petrochemical complex, Liberty oil and gas free zone, Akwa Ibom state among others.
He added that the authority is also faced with the problem of regulatory interference due to a lack of understanding of the peculiar nature of the operations of the free trade zones.
However, he said the good news is that this challenge is being addressed.
“As recently, OGFZA, along with our sister agency, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), held a meeting with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) leadership, and a committee has now been set up to work out clear operational procedures that will streamline the activities of all participating agencies of government. We are also taking steps to update the laws setting up the authority to meet with present-day realities,” he said.