A delegation of governors from the North West geopolitical zone in Nigeria embarked on a visit to the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) in Abidjan during the week, aiming to forge collaboration and unlock the huge agricultural potential within the region.
Led by Katsina State Governor Mallam Dikko Umar Radda, the delegation held a high-level engagement with the bank’s president, Akinwumi Adesina.
Governor Radda underscored the region’s significant challenges, such as limited irrigation infrastructure, low agricultural productivity, and unemployment, citing them as critical factors contributing to food insecurity and regional instability.
Radda said the North West governors decided to adopt a coordinated approach to collaborating with the Bank to implement agriculture and power projects that will drive the zone’s development and improve livelihoods. “We have commonalities in people, approaches, culture, tradition, topography, rainfall, and climate,” he said.
The governor noted that the lack of irrigation infrastructure was among the key challenges in the zone, leading to low yields, post-harvest losses due to poor storage facilities, youth unemployment and underemployment, and fueling insecurity.
“We are confronted with numerous hurdles—unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, and storage facilities—but through concerted efforts and collaboration with the Bank, we aim to surmount these obstacles and achieve sustainable growth,” Radda remarked.
Deputy Governor Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe of Kaduna State expressed hope that Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) can solve problems and boost economic growth.
“We are optimistic that the special agro-industrial processing zones will assist us in overcoming many challenges, just as they will propel us to achieve food self-sufficiency, job creation, and wealth creation, and subsequently boost economic growth, especially in the rural economy.” Balarabe emphasised.
Governor Nasiru Idris of Kebbi State highlighted the critical role of agriculture in their state’s economy, stressing the need for strategic partnerships and commitment to initiatives like the Desert-to-Power program.
“Agriculture is the bedrock of our state’s economy. Nearly 70 percent of our population is reliant on agriculture. We recognise the immense potential of renewable energy to revitalise dormant industries and foster economic prosperity,” Governor Idris said.
The Deputy Governor of Kano State, Aminu Abdussalam, said the state is working to revamp more than 20 idle dams to drive economic activity, while the Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Idris Mohammed Gobir, said programmes to bolster beef and milk production and improve higher education for youth are priorities.
Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, emphasised the pivotal role of the Bank in fostering sustainable growth and addressing the challenges faced by the North West region.
“The African Development Bank Group remains resolute and committed to supporting the Nigerian government to mitigate the impacts of the high food and energy prices prevailing in the country,” Adesina said.
He explained, “Food price inflation stands today at 33 percent, and it accounts for 65 percent of the consumer price index. By providing the North West—whose development is critical for Nigeria—with affordable renewable energy that will power our planned Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones, we would have gone a long way in taming inflation in Nigeria.”
The bank, with an active portfolio of 48 operations worth $4.4 billion in Nigeria, aims to invest $1 billion to expand SAPZs across the country. Adesina urged the swift identification of suitable agricultural hubs by the governors to expedite the implementation of these schemes.