28 March 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, OGFZA, has said that it was targeting to increase new investments into the oil and gas free zones by 50percent by next year 2019.
Managing Director of OGFZA, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, disclosed this at a one day workshop for heads of information and media relations of agencies and parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments, held at the Oil and Gas Free Zone in Onne, Rivers State.
Umana said the Authority was determined to grow investments and also attract more investments into the zone and ensure existing investors grow their investment within the zone.
He said the Authority was working on bringing other oil and gas free zones on stream, including Brass, Ondo, and Akwa Ibom oil and gas free zones, which according to him, will bring a lot of investment into the country.
“In the free zone, one core factor is that everything must happen quickly without any bureaucracy and we also call it a one-stop-shop where an investor can come and do business without going outside the zone, so the ease of doing business is just in line with the concept of the free zone.
“Our second goal is to grow investment in the zone and our core mandate is to attract investment into oil and gas free zones. Within a year, we have been able to attract Notore and it is a huge investment because they are going to add a lot of value to this free zone.
“We have other oil and gas free zone coming up in, Brass, Bayelsa State, Ondo state, and in Akwa Ibom State is promoting two free zones, one at Ibaka and one at Ikot Abasi area. So that’s our core mandate to attract investment into free zones and in doing that we believe we can grow investments in the zones by over 50 percent by 2019.”
Umana who was also represented by the Head, Operations and Technical Department, Mr. Adekunle Ajayi, also said that to attract investors, the Authority was giving out incentives such as financial and tax reliefs for investments in the free zone.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Edet Akpan, disclosed that Ministry has adopted five strategic pillars to drive its policies in diversifying the nation’s economy from oil to the non-oil sector.
Akpan speaking on the theme, the role of the media in improving ease of doing business in Nigeria, said more investors have gained the confidence to invest in the country as more were coming in, following the reforms by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council PEBEC.
He said as part of the reforms by PEBEC, business incorporation process are now done online on the Corporate Affairs Commissions portal, and timelines for company registration have been revised as to be completed within 24hours.
According to him, “In pursuant to the diversification process of this administration, the Ministry has articulated on five strategic pillars to drive its policies in order to achieve its mandate in diversifying the economy from oil to the non-oil sector.
“These include; creating an enabling environment for industry, trade and investment implementation of the Nigeria industrial revolution plan, championing the cause of micro, small and medium enterprises development, proactively attracting domestic and foreign investment and market access facilitation.
“The ease of doing business is not something extraordinary, but it is the way the world is going and Nigerian cannot be left out.”
Akpan, represented by the Special Assistant to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Kolawole Bakare, said even the World Bank has attested that Nigeria has improved tremendously in implementing the most regulatory reforms in the area of getting credit, starting a business, dealing with construction permits and paying taxes.
“For instance, the 145th position we have been ranked in 2018 World Bank ease of doing business index is something we are proud of, and we are not looking back we are hoping that in 2019 we will move closer to below 100th in the ranking.
“We are making an impact because looking at the programs of the government which is meant to attract investors, a lot of investors have come and we are expecting more simply because they have seen that Nigeria has that potential to make the business a lot easier for them.”