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The LADOL Free Zone Managing Director, Dr Amy Jadesimi has joined a high-level panel convened by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH), to launch a long-awaited “Handbook on Special Economic Zones in Africa: Towards Economic Diversification across the Continent”.
A statement sent to City Business News expained that the handbook focuses on achieving Continental economic goals, through best practices and policy recommendations, across a wide array of topics, relevant to zones; and features case studies from a number of different zones within and outside Africa.
The Maritime First learnt that 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.
It was further learnt, that though UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2019 presented a comprehensive analysis on the number and types of SEZs, large gaps however remained, especially concerning data on their design and on the benefits that they accrue to the host economy.
Similarly, 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, developed a handbook for SEZs on the continent, providing 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.
Dr Jadesimi was one of the speakers at a round table held during the launch, alongside Mr. Harouna Niang (Consultant, and Former Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Promotion, Mali), Mr. Ahmed Bennis (General Secretary, Africa Economic Zones Organization), Mr. Ken Poonoosamy (CEO, Economic Development Board of Mauritius, Mauritius) and Dr Pierre Voges (CEO, Atlantis Special Economic Zone Atlantis SEZ Atlantis SEZ, South Africa).
Speaking at the event, Dr. 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 regimen.
“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.
It was strongly believed, that the launch of the handbook would help trigger an influx of investment into these zones as it provides and set a global standards that investors can use to assess and invest in zones based on the strong market cases we have in Africa.
“This is another step towards making fit-for-purpose, long-term, low-cost funding available for free zones across the continent”, she further highlighted.