2 January 2023


Organized the 5th African Union Symposium on Special Economic Zones and Green Industrialization, and the 7th edition of the AEZO Annual Meeting from November 30th to December 2nd, 2022, in Abuja – Nigeria, convened under the theme “African Special Economic Zones: Engine for Resilience and Accelerator for Sustainable Industrial Value Chains Development.”

This year’s edition paved the way for the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Special Economic Zones scheme in Nigeria and brought together over 400 delegates representing government officials, ministers, heads of international organizations, eminent experts, academia, policymakers, financial institutions, Economic Zones and Investment & Promotion Agencies representing 38 countries including 52 African economic zones.

The opening ceremony was chaired by H.E Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, represented by H.E Umana Okon Umana, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, H.E Amb. Albert M. Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals (ETTIM) and Mr. Ahmed Bennis, Secretary General of The Africa Economic Zones Organization (AEZO).

The ceremony was marked by the statements and goodwill messages of Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank (AfDB), H.E Mr. Adebayo Otunba Niyi, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Nigeria, H.E Mr. Hugues Mbadinga Madiya, Minister of Investment Promotion and Public-Private Partnership, Gabon, Hon. Michael Okyere Baafi, Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Republic of Ghana, Prof Adesoji Adesugba CEO & MD of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Senator Tijjani Yahaya Kaura CEO & MD of Oil & Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) and Mr. Toyin Elegbede, Executive Secretary, Nigeria Economic Zones Association (NEZA).

Mr. Ahmed Bennis, Secretary General of The Africa Economic Zones Organization stated “Special Economic Zones can trigger economic policy reforms, by promoting economic diversification and export while preserving domestic linkages. It can provide room for experimenting new policy approaches and regulations in areas like customs, legal, public-private partnership, sustainable development, and green industrialization initiatives.”

On the other hand, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, the CEO of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) said “The free zone scheme has indeed opened implausible business opportunities for Nigeria, investors, enterprises and all the key stakeholders in the 30 years of its existence.”

The President of the African Development Bank and representatives of UNIDO and UNCTAD emphasized in their turn the role of SEZs in accelerating sustainable industrial value chains development.

African Special Economic Zones are considered as one of the main instruments that stimulate sound economic reforms, promote quality Foreign direct investments (FDIs), and accelerate industrialization across the continent. According to the African Economic Zones Outlook (Edition 2021), more than 200 SEZs are operational in Africa while 73 projects have been announced for completion in 47 countries. The land dedicated to SEZs is nearly 150,000 hectares while over $2.6 billion has been mobilized in investments dedicated to agro-processing,
manufacturing and services.

AEZO is a continental association, initiated by Tanger Med in partnership with other special economic zones, and representing the main public and private institutions in charge of the development, management and promotion of economic zones in Africa.

Founded in November 2015 by Tanger Med Group, the association works to support African economic zones projects and strengthen relationships within its ecosystem. It has 82 members representing 42 countries.

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