The Managing Director of LADOL Free Zone, Dr. Amy Jadesimi has joined a high-level panel convened by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), under the auspices of the World Investment Forum 2020, Investing in Sustainable Development, to launch the long-awaited “Handbook on Special Economic Zones in Africa: Towards Economic Diversification across the Continent”.
Despite Special Economic Zones (SEZs) having been widely used for decades, there is relatively little systematic research on their performance or social, economic and environmental impact, especially in the context of Africa.
UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2019 presented a comprehensive analysis on the number and types of SEZs. However, large gaps remain concerning data on their design and on the benefits that they accrue to the host economy.
Although the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is set to impact SEZs on the continent significantly, there is a lack of research and policy guidance on how zones can adjust to the new regulatory environment. In this context, UNCTAD, with the support of GIZ, has developed a handbook for SEZs on the continent. The handbook provides best practices and policy recommendations across a wide array of topics relevant to zones and also features case studies from a number of different zones within and outside Africa.
In addition to the dissemination of the handbook’s findings, UNCTAD and GIZ are also arranging a series of technical cooperation workshops in different parts of Africa. The handbook and the related technical cooperation have a particularly strong emphasis on helping SEZs adjust to the new trade and investment environment in Africa, after the full implementation of the AfCFTA.
Jadesimi was one of the speakers at a round table held during the launch, alongside the consultant and Former Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Promotion, Mali, Mr. Harouna Niang; the General Secretary, Africa Economic Zones Organization, Mr. Ahmed Bennis; the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Economic Development Board of Mauritius, Mauritius, Mr. Ken Poonoosamy; and the CEO, Atlantis Special Economic Zone Atlantis SEZ Atlantis SEZ, South Africa, Dr Pierre Voges.
In her remarks at the event, Jadesimi strongly advocated the role Nigeria will play as the industrial hub for West Africa as well as being an economic engine for the rest of the continent, enabled by its free zone regime.
According to her, Nigeria is a natural pan-continental hub. Public and private free zones across the country will be able to drive local manufacturing using a range of models across the country from mono-industrial zones to multi-industrial and financial zones – all of which will create a multiplier effect on job creation.
Maritime Bits checks revealed that the launch of this handbook will help trigger an influx of investment into these zones as it provides a set of global standards that investors can use to assess and invest in zones based on the strong market cases we have in Africa.
The promoters believed that this is another step towards making fit-for-purpose, long-term, low-cost funding available for free zones across the continent.
LADOL is building the world’s first Sustainable Industrial Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) by using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to build a unique circular ecosystem, servicing a range of industries. The Zone was developed out of a disused swamp and has been operational since 2006. Every year since then the infrastructure and facilities have grown and expanded.
It presently provides an efficient, safe and secure location from which local and international companies, in a range of sectors, can start operating immediately. In 2017, it disrupted the local oil and gas market, halving the costs of local support, and creating thousands of local jobs. It is now focused on attracting and servicing a range of non-oil and gas companies, in sectors ranging from technology to agriculture. According to it, the sectors identified will work together to create a circular economy within the zone.