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Text of OGFZA MD’s Remarks at the 7th AGM of AEZO

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OPENING REMARK BY SEN. TIJJANY Y. KAURA, MFR,

MANAGING DIRECTOR/CEO OF OIL AND GAS FREE ZONES AUTHORITY, NIGERIA (OGFZA)
AT THE 7TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE
AFRICA ECONOMIC ZONES ORGANIZATION HELD AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, ABUJA, NIGERIA ON 1st DECEMBER 2022.

Protocols

Permit me to stand on the established protocol.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It is with deep and sincere pleasure that I welcome you to Nigeria, and to our Federal Capital Territory, Abuja for the 7th Annual General Meeting of the Africa Special Economic Zones Organisation. This historic AGM coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Free Zones Scheme in Nigeria.
We are glad to see that the desire Nigeria expressed last year, during the 6th AGM in Ghana has been realised today.

I therefore particularly thank the Executives and members of Africa Economic Zones Organisation for giving Nigeria the privilege to host this 7th AGM.

We are also appreciative of the fact that the African Union Commission is similarly holding its 5th Symposium on Special Economic Zones this week in Nigeria.

We welcome you all.

It is indeed a new dawn for Africa as we pursue very earnestly, a more integrated continent. Using the AfCTA as a backdrop, our quest for improving and accelerating economic development is amplified significantly, through the Special Economic Zones.

Here in Nigeria, our Economic Zones scheme has evolved from Export Processing Zones in 1992, through to Free Trade Zones in 1996, and now to the globally adopted Special Economic Zones.

These terminologies of course refer to specially dedicated locations that are set aside to encourage and enhance economic activity in a bid to boost economic development.

The theme of this 7th Annual General Meeting of AEZO is most appropriate, because it is in harmony with the essence of the African continental development plan and the urgent need to harness the rich natural resources that our Continent is endowed with.

This year’s theme: [“African Special Economic Zones; Engine for Resilience and Accelerator for Sustainable Industrial Value Chain Development”] comes at a time that African governments have desired for a deeper economic, cultural and social integration.

It is therefore our expectation that this forum will enhance understanding and communications between policy makers, Regulators, Free Zones Operators and other economic stakeholders for the overall economic development of Africa. These discussions should benefit all industry participants and should ultimately translate into more local and foreign direct investment attractiveness, greater skills and knowledge transfer, increased job creation, deeper technology transfer, and wider spread industrialization for our Continent.

Your Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, permit me to share a little information of Nigeria’s story from our perspective as the Apex Regulator of Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Free Zones.

Of the over 200 Free Zones in Africa, Nigeria is host to about 1/6th of them with roughly 9 being specifically dedicated to oil and gas activities.

The oil and gas free zones, which we oversee are predominantly located in the rich southern belt where Nigeria boasts a robust competitive advantage with regards to oil and gas.

The region holds the potential to become the energy belt of Africa with Nigeria reportedly having Africa’s largest gas reserves, and the 9th largest gas reserves in the world.

Our oldest and first dedicated oil and gas free zone, the Onne Oil and Gas free zone has in the last 20 years, served as a logistics support base, manufacturing, shipping, and services supply hub to the sector.

Furthermore, our oil and gas free zones have in the past two decades, attracted over $16.6 billion USD of FDI and over N255 million of LDI.

Recent Data from just three years between 2017 – 2020 show our exports totalling roughly $382 million USD.

These figures in themselves mean little, if they don’t quantify the value that we have added to our primary stakeholders.

As the Apex regulator of Nigeria’s oil & gas free zones, our contribution to the industry is channeled towards improving efficiencies for zone operators in the sector such that, out of the hundreds of Departments and Agencies in Nigeria, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council [PEBEC] has since their inception in 2018, bestowed multiple Awards on us, in the categories of Transparency & Efficiency, with OGFZA coming first in 2018, and consistently amongst top 3 in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Despite our successes, we acknowledge that there is still so much to learn from our brother Regulatory Authorities and Zones Operators across Africa and the world.

To this end, we are reminded again as to why this AGM is keenly important, as it gives us all the platform to share experiences, for the betterment of our Continent.

In conclusion, I would like to thank and acknowledge everyone here today for being part of this historic event.

On behalf of the Management and Staff of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, and our co – host the Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Professor Adesoji Adesugba; the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee and Executive Secretary of Nigeria Economic Zones Authority (NEZA), Prince Toyin Elegbede,

I wish to express my sincere
appreciation to AEZO for your vision, and
for choosing Nigeria to host this 7th AGM.

Once again, your Excellencies, distinguished
delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
I welcome you all to Nigeria and express our sincere hope that you
will find your stay here enjoyable and memorable.
I wish you very all fruitful deliberations.
Thank you!

Senator Tijjani Yahaya Kaura MD/CEO
Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, Nigeria

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