Investors worry over delay in approval of Energy FTZ

INVESTORS and technical partners have expressed concern over the delay in the approval for the Enugu Power and Energy Free Trade Zone (ENPOWER FTZ).

  Indeed, the financial commitment of the investors that run into billions of dollars have been laid dormant with accumulating costs, investment proposals for coal fired power projects and other coal conversion technologies dust in the shelves. 

    Investigations showed that the ENPOWER FTZ is yet to come into effect after 19 months when President Goodluck Jonathan granted the request by the leaders of the South East zone and declared that his administration would establish the first free trade zone in Enugu – the first ever of such facility in the South East zone.

   Anxiety over the approval of the facility prompted business and socio-cultural leaders in the South East and South South geopolitical zone to request President  Jonathan to influence express approval of the facility, which he promised during his visit to Enugu State some 20 months ago.

   The ENPOWER Free Zone covers over 1,000 hectares designed to accommodate up to 500 companies located in three Free Zone Areas at The Ninth Mile industrial area, The Akanu Ibiam Airport and The Coal Processing zone. The facility is also expected to create over 30,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities.

  Rising from a meeting in Lagos at the weekend, the stakeholders passionately demanded the Federal Fovernment to urgently give official effect to the presidential approval.

   The President of Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, said the president’s promise was genuine, sincere and in the best interest of the people, wandering while relevant agencies in his administration were reluctant to realize the mandate.

   He called on the Minister of Trade and Investments, Olusegun Aganga, to expedite action on establishing the tax haven which, according to him, aligns with the Transformation Agenda of government in creating wealth across all spectrum of the Nigerian society.

   Uwazuruike pointed out that the aspiration of the FTZ for the South East was to leverage investments that would create jobs, enhance productivity and generate revenues for all stakeholders in the Nigerian economy.

   Other businessmen and investors who have already staked efforts in driving the realization of the free zone lamented that the resources they mustered for development of industrial facilities in the highly anticipated free zone have continued to depreciate after laying fallow for too long at a time of rapid changes in the local economy.

   It would be recalled that Hamex Engineering of India and Enpower Energy, operators of the Enugu ENPOWER FTZ, have already signed an investment cooperation agreement.

   Chairman, Hamex Engineering, Saxena Nagendra, noted that industrial activities in the ENPOWER FTZ would boost the fortune of the country’s power sector, ensuring steady and stable power supply in the near future.

He restated that his company is setting up facilities for the manufacture of transformer resins and related chemicals in the proposed Enugu free trade zone.

  Speaking in the same vein, Special Adviser to the Enugu State Government, Dr. Jude Akubilo, explained that the Free Zone project would help alleviate poverty in the zone through the creation of over 30,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities.

   He said, “The Federal Government has made power generation and power sector reform a key priority, which will be actively supported by the proposed free zone, adding that Enpower Free Zone has met up with most of the requirements by the necessary authorities.”

   He further stated that the project would serve as an important Foreign Direct investment (FDI) destination for Coal and energy related industrial activity in the South East zone and Nigeria in general.

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