The Oil and Gas Free Trade Zones Authority has stated that it attracted $16.6bn foreign direct investment into the economy within a 20-year period spanning 2001 to 2020.

During the same period, the Authority also attracted N255.33bn local investments into the country.

The Managing Director of OGFZA, Okon Umana, disclosed this during an interview with journalists in Abuja, on Sunday.

He added that between January and May this year, OGFZA generated N9.41bn as revenue through the free trade zones.

A breakdown of the revenue revealed that N2.1bn was generated in January, while February, March, April and May had N1.45bn, N4.39bn, N1bn and N453.98m respectively.x

Speaking on the developmental impact of the agency, he said that within the last few years, there had been great improvement in the operations of the free zones.

He said this was achieved through dedicated leadership as well as the commitment and exceptional quality of members of staff of the authority.

This, he stated, had resulted in huge interests by both local and foreign investors in the zones.x

The OGFZAs boss stated that currently, there were about N6.1bn investments that were expected to materialise in the Liberty Oil and Gas Free Zone.

He said: “To grow investment also means looking at the structures within our zones because as I said, you can only attract Foreign Direct Investment if you are globally competitive.

“We took a number of steps; we reviewed our standard of operation, and we came out with a timeline for delivery of our services.x

“For example, in the past, we did not have a specific timeline for renewal of licence or to reissue new licences or even to process cargos.

“We came up with specific timelines – we say for example that we will take only 48 hours to clear cargos if the cargos were consigned in Free Zones.

“It will take seven days to renew the licence when all the requirements have been met and 21 days to issue a new licence under the same circumstances.”x

In terms of job creation, the OGFZA boss stated that the investments have been able to unlock many direct and indirect jobs thereby empowering many Nigerians.

He said between 2005 and 2015, the authority had created 40,508 direct jobs and indirect jobs with conservative estimates at about 160,000.

He said, “These incentives are applied for activities within zones meaning that when they move items from the zone to any other place, all the taxes will be applied.”

Umana added that between 2005 and 2015, the authority created 40,508 direct jobs with indirect jobs conservatively estimated at 160,000.