The Kano Free Trade Zone (KFTZ) must work and take its pride of place as one of the drivers of the nation’s industrialisation process, the Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Hon. Emmanuel Jime, assured Monday.
JIme, who is visiting Kano as part of his familiarisation tour of FTZs across the country, gave the assurance during a tour of infrastructural facilities at the Free Zone, located on 261 hectares in the Fanisau area of the ancient city.
He said he was particular about the Kano FTZ because its location in Kano, a town renowned for its commercial vibrancy, strategically positions it to become the hub of economic activities in Northern Nigeria, Maghreb Africa and beyond.
According to him, it was regretful that the public FTZs, Kano and Calabar, were not living up to expectation, saying it was time for the public sector to prove to the Organised Private Sector that what it could do, it (the public sector) can also do.
Speaking further, Jime said: “If NEPZA doesn’t succeed elsewhere, it must succeed here in Kano. I say this to underscore the importance I attach to this gigantic economic dream. As the two only public zones in the country, Calabar and Kano constitute the flagships of our FTZ concept.
“Sadly, they are not doing too well, but Kano’s case is more serious. It has only two or three functional Enterprises. Under my watch, the Kano FTZ, the sleeping giant, must wake up. Nigeria is waiting for Kano. And so is Maghreb Africa and even the Middle East. This is the vast potential of the KFTZ.”
He added: “If you see LADOL, the Lagos Free Zone, the Ogun-Guangdong and the Eko-Atlantic City, you will wonder what the public Free Zones are doing. But we must reverse that by measuring up to our mandate. We will stand by Kano so it becomes the world-class FTZ that it was envisioned to be.”
Quoting the Chinese that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, the NEPZA boss promised to empower the FTZ to take that proverbial first step as soon as the 2017 budget is signed into law.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Assistant-General Manager (AGM) of the KFTZ, Hajia Da-Gana Hassan, enumerated the problems of the zone to include: under-funding, power outages as well as insufficient office accommodation and investors ‘suites.