Nigeria and Ghana have further deepened their socio-economic bonds, with a call by the Ghana Free Trade Board (GFTB) for a strategic partnership, beginning with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigeria Export Zones Processing Authority (NEPZA).
According to a statement issued on Sunday by NEPZA’s spokesman, Simon Imobo-Tswam, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GFTB, Mr. Michael Okyere Baafi, made the call at the weekend in Abuja when he led a three-man delegation from the Ghana Free Trade Board to the NEPZA Headquarters on a working visit.
Baafi said, besides being in Nigeria to seek areas of cooperation with the Authority, they were in Nigeria to also urge the famed Giant of Africa to rise to the historic duty of providing leadership for the West African sub-region and Africa at large in the area of free zone innovation.
His words: “We are here to explore areas of cooperation and partnership. But we believe Nigeria is a senior brother in business, population etc, so it is an opportunity for Nigeria to take the lead and I can tell you that Ghana is prepared to follow. This way, we can, together, build strong African free zones so they can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the world’s best.
“We don’t have a large market, but we need a senior brother like Nigeria to move so that we’ll be able to build standard African free zones. Seeing what is happening in Morocco, Ethiopia and Rwanda, we believe this type of collaboration is strategic to our overall success at the regional and continental levels.
“We are here to see what we can do together, collaborate on things we can do together, try to see what we are not doing right that we learn from the Nigerian counterparts and we can also share some thoughts about what we are doing that can bring a change to the free zones in general in Africa.”
He added: “We have gone to Morocco and seen what they are doing. Within two years, they have been able to attract a tenant like Renault and Renault is employing 30,000 workers. So that is why we came here, to learn from Nigeria and to push them to take the lead for us to follow. And we are inviting you to Ghana. We want you to come so that we even sign an MOU for cooperation and takeoff.”
Responding, the Managing Director of NEPZA, Hon. Emmanuel Jime, expressed the readiness of NEPZA to partner with its Ghanaian counterpart, saying such collaborations were part of the protocols envisaged long ago by the founding-fathers of ECOWAS.
He explained that although the Authority was “initially conceptualized as an Export Processing Zone (EPZ), it has today been saddled with the mandate of anchoring Nigeria’s industrialization way beyond the original mandate because of evolving economic dynamics.”