Nigeria: The Lagos Free Zone – complete with port – aims to transform industrial growth

in depth

This article is part of the dossier:

Nigeria/France: Le Nouveau Chapitre

By Nicholas Norbrook

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Posted on July 26, 2021 08:07

 © The Lagos Free Trade Zone – photo supplied
The Lagos Free Trade Zone – photo supplied

Special economic zones (SEZs) and free-trade zones were the spearhead of Asian industrialisation – allowing countries with major deficits in power, logistics and bureaucracy to pull in investors.

Many of those zones were designed by Singaporean planners, who learned from Japan, the famous ‘flying geese’ development model through which capital and know-how cascades from country to country.

Will geese land in Nigeria? The country has 33 such zones. But only 15 are active, and the government has not fully backed them in the past. For instance, during Sanusi’s term as central bank governor, it did not allow repatriation of profits.

Sabre rattling

“Challenges such as low investor confidence due to frequent arbitrary changes in government policies and some political and social developments, including insecurity in different parts of the country, have negatively affected investor confidence,” says lawyer Afolabi Caxton-Martins of Dentons ACAS-Law. In addition, “in certain cases, the states where some of the free-trade zones are located are simply not viable and were bound to struggle to

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