Three bodies, Waltersmith, United Nation Industrial Development Organization and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa have signed a technical support agreement with respect to the development of an Industrial Park by Waltersmith, the first of its kind in Nigeria, which will attract petrochemical, pharmaceutical, research and other light manufacturing companies that feed off the hydrocarbon value chain.
The industrial park is being developed with the support of the UNIDO and UNECA as part of Nigeria’s country programme with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. “This signing ceremony essentially flags off the industrial park development and we are excited about the technical support UNIDO and UNECA are willing to provide to Waltersmith as this will help us attract several companies to the park area. Our goal is to create an industrial cluster in Ibigwe and help reduce manufacturing costs, position the South- Eastern region as a major manufacturing hub and take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement which the Nigerian government has currently signed on,” said Abdulrazaq Isa, Chairman Waltersmith Group.
Only recently, the first phase of the 5,000 barrels per day refinery that the oil company is developing was commissioned and is expected to deliver about 271 million litres of refined petroleum products into the domestic and regional market consisting of Heavy Fuel Oil, Dual Purpose Kerosene and Automotive Gas Oil. Recall that last year, President Muhammadu Buhari gave approval for the establishment of seven new industrial parks to support the Nigerian Industrial Revolution plan The Managing Director, Nigeria Exports Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Terhemba Nongo, said the parks would be located in each of the country’s six geopolitical zones.
He listed the locations of the parks to include Lekki in Lagos; Makurdi in Benue State; Benin, Edo State; Ilorin, Kwara State; Sokoto; Gombe and Abakiliki in Ebonyi. He said the Free Trade Zones (FTZs) in Ilorin, Makurdi, and Sokoto are almost completed.
He said government would be able to attract ‘the right investments’ by the time the infrastructural development, which will soon be provided for the project, is completed.
“Each of the zones would provide a minimum of 50,000 direct jobs for the country, thus giving a total of 350,000 direct jobs for the seven of them. In terms of indirect jobs, the zones can create about one million jobs for the country.
“These new industrial parks in the works would spike infrastructure development and unleash a new wave of job opportunities for our teeming youths. It is worth stressing that with every free zone or industrial park licensing, the door is open for serious infrastructure development,” Nongo said.
He also threatened that the licences of inactive FTZs in the country be revoked. He said going by the importance of Free Trade Zones in attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and economic diversification, the “government will no longer watch the laxity at which those given the licenses are treating the zones.