In order to improve on the ease of doing business, operational requests from oil and gas companies in Nigeria are now “dealt with” within a maximum of 48 hours, a government official has said.
Unnecessary bureaucracy at different levels of government in Nigeria has for long remained one of the obstacles to doing business in the country
The official, Umana Umana, who heads the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) in Nigeria, said helping companies to resolve operational issues quickly, saves time and reduces cost.
OGFZA, an agency of the federal government, regulates and manages Nigeria’s oil and gas export free trade zones.
“In the past, it could take several weeks or even months to obtain a license (to operate within the free zones) even when the applicant or the company in question had met all the conditions,” Mr Umana said in an interview with Channels TV, Friday.
Today, things are done differently in the country’s oil and gas free zones, Mr Umana said.
“When once an application is submitted and also the conditions met, it would take 14 days to issue the license. It would take only three days to renew an existing license, again when all the requirements have been met.
“And then it would take a maximum of 48 hours to deal with all operational requests,” he said.
OGFZA on April 3 received an award “for the highest transparency and efficiency compliance score on Executive Order 001 (EO1)” from the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).
PEBEC, headed by Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, was set up in 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari “to remove bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria and make the country a progressively easier place to start and grow a business.”
“We must understand that our flagship free zone, the Onne oil and gas free zone in Rivers State, for example, is also a logistics centre that supports the operations of the oil and gas industry. So, time is of the essence here.
“When cargo comes in, we make a timeline that within 48 hours, working with the Nigerian Customs Service, all requests would be treated and approvals given,” Mr Umana said.
“Within the free zones, we operate as a one-stop-shop. Companies would not have to go anywhere else to look for approval because we have full customs presence and full immigration presence, so all their requests are dealt with expeditiously.
“And you know the whole idea of having a free zone is to make life easy for investors. That is the concept of free zone globally,” he said.