By Bassey Udo
Four firms have been pre-qualified and issued the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the concession of the Calabar and Kano Free Trade Zones (FTZs), the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has disclosed.
The privatization agency said in a statement on Monday that Diamond Stripes Consortium and BUA International Limited were pre-qualified along with Northwest Petroleum and Gas Company Limited for Calabar Free Trade Zone.
Similarly, Diamond Stripes Consortium and BUA International Limited, along with Urban Shelter Infrastructure Limited were pre-qualified for the Kano Free Trade Zone concession.
The Director General of the BPE, Alex Okoh who announced the qualification of the companies at the bidders pre-bid conference in Abuja said they were expected to submit their technical and commercial proposals on or before December 2, 2022.
The DG BPE said the next stage in the bid process would be the public opening of the technical and commercial proposals on the same day, to be followed subsequently with the evaluation of the bids.
“The bidders are also expected to submit, along with their proposals, the draft Concession Agreement that has been reviewed or tracked with each page signed or initialled”, the DG added.
Okoh said the pre-bid conference was a continuation of the Federal Government’s ongoing efforts to diversify the country’s economy and fast-track its industrialisation by unlocking the potentials of the two FTZs to transform them into world class facilities through the injection of private sector capital and technical capacity.
Specifically, he said the purpose of the pre-bid meeting was to engage with the prospective bidders, financing institutions and contractors, to elicit discussions and address key concerns with respect to the transactions.
He said the meeting would also be used to seek clarifications on vital issues around the bid documents to allow bidders to better put in context and understand the bidding process and prerequisite guidelines.
On the vital roles of FTZs to the economic growth and development, Okoh cited the examples of several countries in Southeast Asia and southern America particularly China, India, Brazil and Mexico, including some African Countries like Ethiopia and Kenya.
The Director General noted that these countries have leveraged on States export zones (SEZs) to fast-track industrialisation, diversify their economies, create jobs, and generate Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).
However, the BPE Chief expressed regrets that efforts to replicate the success of the FTZ model in Nigeria have not yielded the desired results, owing to many reasons, amongst which were deficient and obsolete infrastructure, over reliance on the treasury for funding, amongst others.
To check the trend, Okoh said the Federal Government, through the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) in 2018, approved the reform of the Kano and Calabar FTZs with a view to transforming them, through private sector participation into important pillars and enablers for the drive towards diversification, growth and development of the Nigerian economy.
Following Council’s approval, he announced the constitution of a Transaction Implementation Committee (TIC) under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment with membership drawn from relevant stakeholders, including the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), Ministry of Justice, and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEC) to drive the reform process.
Also, he said Ernst & Young Consortium was engaged as the Transaction Adviser for the concession of the two Zones.
He commended the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for its determination and unwavering commitment to improve the ease of doing business and service delivery, through the provision of excellent infrastructure by partnering with the private sector on a mutually beneficial relationship that would incentivise private sector investors and deliver economic benefits to the Nigerian people.
He also commended the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo who is also the Chairman of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) as well as members of NCP for their support and guidance in implementing the Federal Government’s reform, privatisation and the public private partnership (PPP) programme.
The Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Adesoji Adesugba, who was represented by his Special Adviser, Adewale Folowosele, congratulated the pre-qualified bidders for getting to that stage of the concession of the two FTZs with the aim of driving sustainable development on the zones.
He thanked the BPE for pursuing the transaction relentlessly, describing the event as an important milestone for all stakeholders involved in the transaction.