The Onne Oil and Gas Free Trade Zones (FTZ) has received fresh investments of $200 million (N32 billion) in the last 10 months, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment said on Thursday.
According to the minister, when added to the $4 billion (N640) capital investment reported in 2012, the latest figure would amount to $4.2 billion dollars (N672 billion).
Aganga, who spoke at an oil and gas trade and investment forum in Onne, Port-Harcourt, described the total investment portfolio as a remarkable progress when considered from the standpoint of weak global economy and the huge competition among advanced economies.
The forum, organised by Orlean Invest West Africa Ltd. in partnership with the Federal Government, has as theme, “Investment opportunities in the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry”.
The minister also said that the success of the policy on FTZ had increased the demand at the sub-national level of government for a replication of free zones in other parts of the country.
His words: The Onne Oil and Gas Zone remains a pacesetter, with additional investment of 200 million dollars in 2013, in addition to the four billion dollars capital investments reported in 2012.
“This is indeed a remarkable progress when considered in the light of a weak global economy and the cut-throat competition, even among emerging and advanced economies for inflow foreign direct investment.
“The success of our FTZ policy has invariably increased the demand at the sub-national level of government for replication of free zones in other parts of the country.
“Also an avalanche of applications for setting up business enterprises in the various FTZs keep pouring in from prospective investors,” Aganga said.
According to him, the genuineness and sincerity of purpose of government to enthrone the private sector as the main driver of growth and development of the nation’s economy was not in doubt.
He said that the theme of the forum, which was the second edition, would not only consolidate the gains achieved in the first edition but would also help to deepen investments in the sector.
“To all intent, the oil and gas industry remains the prime mover of Nigeria’s economy,” he said.
“The oil and gas free zone concept continues to be strategic in the facilitation of private sector investments in the sector in line with the nation’s industrial policy,’’ he added.
Given the role of the private sector in driving the national economy toward sustainable development, the minister urged investors to explore the available incentive packages offered by the free trade zones.
He said that the Onne oil and Gas FTZs would continue to be a catalyst for diversification of the economy into services and downstream sector.
The minister said that Nigeria’s oil and gas zone was the single largest and fastest growing oil and gas free zone in the world.
“Indeed, our national aspiration is to be the petrochemical hub in Africa,’’ he said.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in her own remarks said that the sector offered a global scale of opportunities for both local and foreign investors.
She said that the Federal Government would continue to provide enabling environment for investments to thrive.