The federal government says plans are underway to make Ekiti a major free trade zone in Nigeria.

Free Trade Zones are areas where companies are exempt from the normal regime applicable in Nigeria. However, the government hopes that these companies will boost national exports, create jobs and help diversify the country’s economy by incorporating new activities.

Adesoji Adesugba, managing director of the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), spoke during a courtesy call on Biodun Oyebanji, Governor of Ekiti, on Thursday.

He said the government is committed to supporting the state in creating knowledge-free zones where education-based industries and technology companies can operate.

The NEPZA chief also said that the establishment of the free trade zone would boost the state’s economy and increase its internally generated revenue, as well as reduce excessive reliance on federal allocation.

According to Adesugba, the free trade zone would be ready within 18 months, adding that he was in Ekiti to confirm the federal government’s commitment to the successful completion of the project.

“The government is committed to making Ekiti the home of blockchain technology, where technology companies and other industries that deal with education will be ready to invest,” he said.

“Ekiti is known for education and innovative ideas and this is where we will show the world that Nigeria has arrived.”

Adesugba also assured that the plans and works have begun, and on the part of the agency, he would ensure the approval of the president.

In his remarks, Oyebanji said the federal government needed to speed up the completion of the project to attract more investors to the state, adding that productivity would always lead to shared prosperity.

He also said that it was unwise for any state to boost its economy with a monthly federal allowance, since it could not be used for effective wealth creation.

Oyebanji noted that the declaration of the Ekiti knowledge zone needed to be expedited.

“As a government I am ready to lead from the front, I am ready to provide whatever support is necessary to drive this forward and ensure success,” he said.

“It will be fine if we can meet the stipulated deadline because without that certification, we won’t be able to do anything and investors won’t come.”

Oyebaji, who also appealed to the federal government to carry out the project, added that the state government had invested heavily in infrastructure to boost the area, especially the airport project.