The ENPOWER Free Trade Zone in Enugu State is expected to attract up to $500m (N240bn) worth of foreign direct investments from leading global manufacturing companies and the activities of the industrial clusters hosted in the free zone are also expected to create over 20,000 jobs across three major regions in the country.
The move is expected to further boost the Federal Government’s economic diversification programme, the state government said on Saturday.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State is expected to host the ground breaking ceremony of the ENPOWER FTZ scheduled at the Akanu Ibiam Airport site of the free zone, which will bring together diverse investment groups.
Licensed by the Federal government to operate as a free trade zone in December 2015, the FTZ is a public-private initiative with the Enugu State Government offering international and domestic investors the benefits of connecting to business opportunities from the south-eastern cluster, which, according to Canback & Company and the McKinsey Global Institute, is the second largest economic cluster in Nigeria, outside of the Lagos cluster.
Ugwuanyi and his government’s private project developers are positioning the free trade zone project as the biggest private sector investment support to the government’s economic recovery efforts.
ENPOWER is affiliated, as a full voting member, to the Dubai-based World Free Zones Organisation and the Africa Free Zones Association. It intends to function as a certified smart, sustainable and safe free trade zone.
The investment promoters intend to provide uninterrupted power supply via an embedded power arrangements, certify the free zone’s infrastructure and operations to globally accepted standards, operate the free trade zone as a one-stop investment destination by integrating all free zone operations with the documentation and cargo handling, customs, immigration administration processes to achieve an Ease of Doing Business rating equivalent to that of Dubai.
Besides, the ENPOWER FTZ is to host Africa’s first ever Nigeria-China “Dragon Market,” the second such manufacturing and wholesale centre, after the famous Dubai Dragon Market. Dragon Mart Dubai is the largest trading hub for Chinese products outside mainland China.
The industrial park also gives access to markets covered by the Economic Community of West African States; South-East Asian countries, including China, India and Malaysia; the European Union, including Czech Republic and Germany; and the untapped industrial heartland of South-Eastern Nigeria, especially the commercial cities of Onitsha, Nnewi and Aba.
ENPOWER FTZ, according to the statement, is designed to accommodate up to 500 companies located in two free zone areas at the Ninth Mile industrial area and the Akanu Ibiam international Airport.
The specialised industrial clusters to be developed within the free zone areas include the manufacturing Centre and whole-sale market; the Aviation and Aerospace Cluster; the Power, Utilities and Light Manufacturing Cluster; the Health Care Park; the Business and Hospitality Park; Technology and Digital Media Park; and the Chemicals and Agribusiness Cluster.
Through the North-East rail line, the FTZ also offers export-processing opportunities for farmers and agro-allied producers in the northern part of the country to harness, upgrade and convert farm produce to finished goods.