Oyo, Cross River and Imo are among seven states and the Federal Capital Territory to receive the first tranche of disbursements of $540m from the African Development Bank to develop Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones.
Prof. Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Senior Special Adviser on Industrialisation to the AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina, disclosed this on Monday when a delegation of the bank and that of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation presented their separate reports on the status of projects being executed in Nigeria to Vice President Kashim Shettima at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Shettima’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Stanley Nkwocha, revealed details of Monday’s discourse in a statement titled, ‘AfDB set to begin disbursement of $540m SAPZs fund.’
Monday’s development comes nearly eight months after the AfDB President, Adesina, first apprised President Bola Tinubu of a $520m investment in the zones.
At a two-day summit on A New Global Financing Pact in Paris in late June 2023, Adesina had assured Tinubu that the bank would support the new administration’s economic policies in Nigeria, placing the people first in development targets.
Speaking on Monday, Oyelaran-Oyeyinka said the SAPZs, which plans to turn Nigeria’s rural landscape into economic zones of prosperity, is meant to “support inclusive and sustainable agro-industrial development in Nigeria.”
“The phase one of the project is at the point of disbursement. Kaduna, Oyo and Cross River States are all in the process of receiving disbursements and we hope that the other states can speed up their documentation so that we can fast-track these states.
“We raised $540m in catalytic funding and expect every state to find a partner to bring equity and join up with them. It is a government-enabled project but private-sector driven,” he explained further.
He also clarified that the first phase of SAPZs is being implemented in seven states: Cross River, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Ogun, Oyo and the Federal Capital Territory.
“Ogun state found a partner for the project and decided not to take the loan. We are going to distribute the loan to the other states.
“The next thing is preparation for phase two with 27 states. The demand is enormous, but we must prioritise those who move fast.
“We have set up eligibility criteria for the states and to rank them. We expect them to have a feasibility report, environmental impact study and a commitment to counterpart funding,” Oyelaran-Oyeyinka added.
On his part, VP Shettima called for immediate action, saying it is time for the government and its development partners to walk the talk.
The three states will benefit from phase one of the development of processing zones, including Oyo, Kaduna and Cross River, while others will get theirs as soon as they conclude documentation.
In another report on the visit to the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, as earlier commissioned by the VP, the Head of Investment and Technology Promotion Office at the UNIDO, Abimbola Wycliffe, told VP Shettima that the recovery plan for the company would include revitalising through rehabilitation, modernisation and expansion.
She said, “Single-phase turnaround for the entire plant is challenging due to heavy investments and a prolonged revenue generation timeline. Convert the integrated steel plant into strategic business units to serve as profit centers.
“Conduct opportunity studies for each SBU, focusing on incremental investments, raw material availability, labor, utilities, and market demand. Prioritize SBUs with lower investments and quicker positive cash flows (the low-hanging fruits)”.
Wycliffe called for the reinvestment of profits from each SBU in ASC to reduce the burden of incremental investment on the Nigerian economy, even as she recommended the enhancement of foreign exchange earnings and contribution to local economic development in the country
In his response, VP Shettima called for immediate action, saying all hands must be on deck to ensure that the visions of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu are delivered to the Nigerian people.
He asserted, “We have passed the age of talking; we must walk the talk. We can talk from now till eternity and it does not mean anything if there is no action and; hence, we must make this work. We just must.
“We have not seen beyond the depth of our pockets; what comes to us is more important than what comes to the generality of the people. Things must change.
“I read a book on how Korea transformed itself with no natural resources, how they started producing steel against all odds, how they went into shipbuilding, and how Hyundai, Daewoo, Samsung and Kia came about. I believe that when there is a will, there is always a way. We have to walk the talk,” the Vice President stated.