The Kwara Government on Wednesday confirmed its status as a Free Trade Zone in the North Central region of Nigeria by supporting the activities NEPZA.
Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq said this while presenting the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, in Ilorin.
AbdulRazaq said the presentation of the documents demonstrated the political will of the administration to strengthen the economic base of the state and bring prosperity to its people.
“We are giving this certificate to concretise our commitment to the opportunity given to Kwara by the Federal Government.
“We must commend President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing competent persons who are actualising the programmes in the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment,” the governor said.
He said that opening up zones will accelerate infrastructural development and increase Gross Domestic Production in all the catchment areas.
“It will bring international investments to the zone. Already, we are speaking with the African Development Bank, and most of the projects we are looking at are sited around the zone.
“Like we know, north central is the food basket of the country but most of our agricultural produce go to waste. So, when we process here, it will reduce waste and expand businesses.
“COVID-19 has shown that we must look inward. The biggest companies today in Nigeria are processors and not necessarily farmers.
“One of the unique things about the Kwara free trade zone is its proximity to the local airport and we will like to optimise the opportunities because Ilorin airport is designated as an international airport,” he said.
AbdulRazaq also disclosed plans to partner with the federal government in making the state a place for medical tourism.
“We are not just looking at one investment from the federal government. We are also looking at developing medical tourism in the state.
“So, we are partnering with the federal government to set up medical tourism by creating another zone which we want to use advantageously,” he said.
Respinding, Adesugba identified the state as investment friendly and suitable for the special economic zone.
“Investment does not stay in the air. Investment goes to destinations. It looks for places where it is most welcome.
“Investment will always go to where there is a will to support it. Your Excellency, at NEPZA, we have discovered that Kwara State seems to be one of the most welcoming states that we can work with in terms of setting up the special economic zone.
“Today, we are happy to be here to start with Kwara among the first three that we will be working with this year.
“We will work with you to provide state-of-the-art equipment to ensure that we promote investors.
“We already have a group of investors from Turkey, Egypt, China that have been asking us where to locate their industries. This will definitely be a good location for them,” he said.
He said that it was in line with the federal government’s agenda for industrialisation to power the whole of Nigeria.
“The benefits of special economic zones is to address issues of unemployment, security and poverty reduction.
“We are happy and glad to see governor AbdulRazaq as one of the champions of industrialisation. We are proud of your successes in private business and we believe that you will bring to bear your successes in state, said Adesugba.