Ministry explains Project MINE, NSEZCO controversy

ExportThe Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has refuted claims in some sections of the media, incriminating its transactions under the Project Made in Nigeria for Export (MINE) and the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited (NSEZCO).

A statement from the ministry noted that Project MINE was a presidential initiative, under its supervision, to develop “world-class” Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across Nigeria and boost the manufacturing of “Made in Nigeria” goods for export, regionally and globally.

The project’s strategic objectives, the statement noted, are to increase manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP to 20%, create 1.5 million new direct jobs and generate over $30 billion yearly in foreign exchange by 2025, among others.

According to the ministry, given the Federal Government’s limited yearly budgetary resources for infrastructure and SEZ development, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), Economic Management Team (EMT) and Project MINE’s Steering Committee, had endorsed the use of a sustainable Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model to develop SEZs across Nigeria.

It also noted that Nigeria LNG, Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company Limited and Development Bank of Nigeria Limited have adopted similar PPP models.

“In line with the PPP model, a special purpose PPP entity – Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited, was designed to enable institutional investors participate in Project MINE alongside the FGN, and to apply global best practices and processes to the long-term financing and development of SEZs.

“In June 2018, the FEC approved NSEZCO as the vehicle for implementing Project MINE and for co-investment between the FGN, development finance institutions and other institutional investors.

“NSEZCO is not a privately-owned company. NSEZCO was incorporated at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), as a limited liability company under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, with the FGN represented by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI), holding 25 per cent of the shares in NSEZCO at incorporation.

“The remaining 75 per cent shareholding was held in trust by A&O Secretarial Services Limited, the Company Secretaries, on behalf of a group of development finance institutions who had indicated interest in co-investing with the FGN in NSEZCO (the Strategic Investment Partners), while they completed internal investment approval processes for their shareholding in NSEZCO,” the statement noted.

It added that the strategic investment partners are African Export-Import Bank, Bank of Industry Limited (BOI), Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Africa Finance Corporation and African Development Bank.

However, a former Director of Revenue and Investment, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Dr. Bakari Wadinga, was appointed as a director to represent MOFI on the board of NSEZCO.

Also, Mr. Olufemi Edun and Ms Oluwadara Owoyemi, who lead the Project MINE delivery team were nominated as directors by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, following consultations with the investment partners, with none of them having any beneficial interest, directly or indirectly in the shares of the Company.

It noted that since NSEZCO’s incorporation, significant progress has been made by the Project MINE delivery team, including plans to raise $500 million in equity by 2023 from the Federal Government, investment partners and other institutional investors.

Currently, NSEZCO is executing a Round 1 equity fund-raising programme for $250 million in tranches.

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