Experts Call for Review and Development of Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Free Zones
Stakeholders in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria have calls for a review of the localisations of oil and gas free zones for global competitiveness. The stakeholders spoke at the Webinar organised by SING Nigeria, a good governance and accountability organisation, in partnership with civil society organisations.
Speakers at webinar include Prof. Pat Utomi, Fr Edward Obi, Mr. Willem Vermeer, Hon. Rimande S. Kwewum, Mr Umana O. Umana. They agreed that there was need for the right environment to provide level playing field and to promote competition for all operators in all the oil and gas export free zones, in line with global best practice.
The speakers addressed various strategies that can assist the efforts of the oil and gas free zones, towards repositioning it for global competitiveness. They harped that it was time Nigeria revisited the rehabilitation of the Nigerian refineries and embraced local oil production since it is the heart of the growth of the economy.
The speakers further advocated that the oil and gas free zones should engage in peer review so as to learn from contemporaries in places like South East Asia.
They also suggested that Nigeria’s free trade zones should integrate its plan with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) of the African Union, developing opportunities in Agriculture, education, and others, as a spillover from Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).
According to them, each Trade Zone should specialize in certain derivatives, while government institutions should be strengthened in order to avoid hindrances to ease of doing business. The forum also urged the private sector to see it as a collective responsibility by working together to ensure that they are strong institutions.
The forum said that business in the Oil and Gas Free Zones should support a precautionary approach towards ensuring environmental standards, while stringent regimes of environmental regulations are enacted to punish or deter unfriendly activities in the ports and elsewhere, since the long term cost of dealing with environmental hazards is considered over short-term high revenue with respect to environmental hazards and degradation.
By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja