NEPZA tasks universities to partake in free trade zones scheme

NEPZA tasks universities to partake in free trade zones scheme
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By Lucy Ogalue

The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has urged universities in the country to take part in the free trade zones scheme.

Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, the Managing Director/CEO of NEPZA, told newsmen on Friday in Abuja that the move would encourage knowledge-based productive activities in tertiary institutions.

According to Adesugba, plan is on-going to establish a free zone at the University of Abuja, Gwagwalada, and it will make the institution a mining centre in the country.

“We are now talking about the University free zone, education free zone, technology free zone, knowledge free zones; and we are working very closely with the University of Abuja in that regard.

“This is going to be one case that people are going to be very happy with.

“The University of Abuja has applied to be a free zone. It’s going to be the first such education free zone.

“It is 10 minutes to the airport, 20 minutes to the city centre, 11,800 hectares of land with all kinds of mineral resources, free rivers, so it is going to be a mine centre,” Adesugba said.

The NEPZA boss said that the authority would work with the university and the Abuja Chamber of Commerce to bring industries closer to the students.

According to him, it would be a symbiotic relationship as the university would feed the industries, the industries would feed the university and research would be utilised and purpose based.

He said, ”Interns and university students having access to knowledge based productive activities will also come into place; so it is going to be a fantastic thing.

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”The best thing about the free zone is that the university lecturers and everybody within that community will have something to do. They will always have something to do.

”There will be warehouses for industries, hotels for conferences; the rivers will provide the terrain good enough for gulf.

”So we are going to have holidays and stuff in the university and it is going to be an amazing city. It’s a city within a city, it’s a dream”.

Adesugba said that the university and the Chamber were pragmatic about the project,“ and NEPZA, being the government agency and regulator, is also very bullish towards realising the project”.

He said that establishing free trade zones in universities would address incessant strikes affecting tertiary institutions in the country.

“We believe this is the way to go; maybe for once we won’t have strike within that place because we do not allow strikes within the free trade zones.

“We will also ensure there is fairness, people will be appropriately paid, it is not just going to be lecturers asking for pays that the universities can’t afford.

“University of Abuja is going to be the richest in Africa, by the time we finish with this concept we will be excited about it,” Adesugba said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Ikenna Uwadileke/Vincent Obi

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