By Josephine Isaac
See Press Release:
The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) said that policy development to drive novel digital technology is ongoing in order to open up the Free Trade Zones space for operators of the important multi-trillion-dollar block-chain technology businesses.
Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, NEPZA Managing Director dropped the hint on Friday during a courtesy visit on the Executive Chairman of the Federal Revenue Inland Services (FIRS), Mr Mohammed Nami in Abuja.
Adesugba, also Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, said that NEPZA aimed at opening the country’s free trade zones’ corridor for genuine global competitiveness.
According to him, the African Continental Free Trade Zones Area (AfCFTA) has given leverage to all countries in the continent to diverse their business catchments.
“As we speak, free trade zones are springing up everywhere in Africa. Nigeria must be concerned about competitions from Egypt; South Africa; Kenya; Benin Republic; Ghana; and Togo where huge investments have been committed to free trade zones development.
“For us, we are doing well with about 500 enterprises operating in 42 zones across the country, but we must expand the investment corridor to magnet operators of the blockchain technology which remains the future of global economy.
“The time to join the train is now, else we shall be counting our losses in a few years time. We are delighted that the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently approved and deployed the e-naira,’’ the NEPZA boss said.
Experts had opined that the country’s decision to approve the e-naira was akin to the fact that the blockchain business was becoming a legitimate disrupt in a myriad of industries.
The technology has become so promising that international tech giants are investing millions of dollars in its research.
He further held that more than 90 per cent of European and US banks were researching blockchain options. According to Adesugba, nothing should stop the country from exploiting the multi trillion dollar sector.
He stated that multinational organizations like JP Morgan, MTN, KFC, Tesla and many others have entered the crypto currency and metaverse digital blockchain sector with MTN said to have purchased 114 metaverse properties recently.
He explained further that the Authority was aware on how the technology could revolutionalise government; finance; insurance; and personal identity security, adding that trillions of naira could accrue to the federal government as revenue from this ecosystem.
“We hope to soon attract some of the top global blockchain companies and exchanges like Binance, Cardano, Crypto.com,Kukoin, Coinbase, and such high flying successful young algorithm based tomb fork protocols like Darkcrypto; on why they should operate in the country’s zones,’’ Adesugba said.
The NEPZA chief executive also said that the decision to fully promote the blockchain technology hinged on its fast rate of revenue turnovers and the unlimited job space the technology had for the teeming youth.
He explained that the country’s tax net would be exponentially enlarged if the investment came alive, as according to him, Nigeria is currently rated as the 6th largest player in the world in the crypto and blockchain trade especially amongst the youths.
” I, therefore, see no reason why we should not open up the space and attract the much needed capital into the country, while government benefits from taxes , or management fees amounting to billions of Naira as is done in countries like Canada and South Africa.
Adesugba, also said that the Authority was ready to deepen its collaborative efforts with relevant government agencies in order to fast track the country’s industrialization, noting that the visit to the FIRS was to prepare grounds for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at ending indiscriminate tax regime that had stunted the full development of the free trade zone scheme.
He said that the scheme was a global business policy that exempt operators of zones from all forms of taxes and duties, adding, however, that when goods and services from the zones were taken to the customs area, they then will be required to pay the required duty which is not necessary when exported elsewhere.
“You can see that the country is not losing any revenue as most of the goods and services from the zones are now imported to the customs areas. FIRS and the Custom Services must wait until items from the zones are brought to the customs area before they can be taxed,’’ he said.
Adesugba also explained that it was imperative that the key agencies partnering with the Authority to drive the development of the scheme understand the dynamics of the scheme.
Nami, on his part, explained that the stage was set to enter into an MoU with NEPZA, adding that such agreement would certainly obliterate all pending negative notions between these two important agencies of government.
Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA
March 27, 2022