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Nigeria

Have 'Special Economic Zones' Entered the 21st Century Yet? A Tale of Two Cities

Martin Norman's picture

At the World Free Zone Convention in Izmir, Turkey, which I attended in December, an important question was asked:  Have "Special Economic Zones" entered the 21st Century?  Evidence shows that, in many ways, they have – but in many instances we are still seeing across the globe the same isolated economic enclaves with few linkages to the local market and little economy-wide impact.

More than ever, special economic zones (SEZs) are on the defensive, despite the fact that the more than 3,500 SEZs worldwide have provided employment for more than 60 million people.

I believe that two zones, in particular, can shed light on the factors of success and failure in SEZs today:  Shenzhen, China, which is almost universally considered to be a success story, and the Calabar Free Trade Zone in Nigeria, which has failed to live up to its original projections. 
 

Top 10 facts you probably don’t know about the investment climate in Nigeria…

1. Only 15 percent of Nigerian entrepreneurs are women --- one of the lowest shares in all Sub-Saharan Africa

2. Almost 70 percent of firms in Akwa Ibom train their employees while just one percent of firms in Zamfara do so. And workers that receive training earn up to a quarter more than non-trained workers.

3. Female entrepreneurs need credit more than men, but they are less likely to apply for and less likely to obtain a loan.