Local investors and manufacturers at the Federal government-owned Kano Free Trade Zone have raised concern over the proposed concession of the vast industrial area to private operators.
These worries are hinged on the possibility of losing an avalanche of opportunities and economic benefits investors presently derive in the free zone, when the liability is finally ceded to private owners.
The Kano and Calabar zones under the management of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) have been placed under a concession plan by the National Council on Privatization.
The plan was approved in June 2018 under a special economic zones plan where a new concession arrangement strategy unfolded for the two zones. Under the new arrangement, five out of nine firms that subscribed for the management of Kano and Calabar Free Trade zones were shortlisted.
Dissatisfied with the development, Marshal Foods managing director Umar Marshal lamented that investors in the zone are curious to know the position of the government on the concession plan.
Marshal, who spoke at a meeting with the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo in Kano raised concern about the economic loss investors incurred on energy due to lack of availability of independent power supply in the zone.
Marshal worried that incessant interruption of power from the distribution company was detrimental to the survival of their investment in the zone.
On his part, the managing director, Hajara Ihsan Limited, Aminu Uba Miko, equally sought for the Federal government special financial intervention through the Central Bank to grow local content and business development in Kano.
The solar energy and technology investor stressed that private investors operating in the zone have the potential to solve economic challenges in the country if afforded the support and encouragement to operate in the zone.
Reacting, the minister allayed fears in the minds of the investors and disclosed that the Federal government has not concluded the concession plan of the Kano Free Trade Zone.
Adebayo insisted that the government was mindful of the compelling interest and economic viability of local investors and noted that under no circumstances would the government allow an investor to suffer any untold liability
On power generation, Adebayo said the government has already approved a contract of 25 megawatts of the independent power supply under Public Private Partner (PPP) to the zone which would be concluded in 13 months.
The minister explained that the government is committed to boosting economic growth and development through local content productivity.
“We would continue to encourage investors in the zone with provision of infrastructure and necessary facilities. On the concession issue, let me inform you that the arrangement was on before I came into office,” Adebayo said.
“It was Federal government plan being handled by the National Council on Privatization but for now, the arrangement is not yet concluded. What I can assure the investors here is, their interest would be taken care of. They can be rest assured their interest is being taken care of.”
The minister inspected six companies producing goods for local and international markets. The minister was in the company of Mariam Yalwaji Katagum, minister of state, and the managing director, Nigeria Processing Zones Authority, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba.
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