The African Development Bank (AfDB) is set to begin the disbursement of $540 million to the first phase of states in Nigeria for the development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs).
Stanley Nkwocha, senior special assistant to the president on media and communications, Office of the Vice President, in a statement, quoted Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, the senior special adviser on industrialisation to the AfDB president, to have disclosed this on Monday when a delegation from bank the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) presented their separate reports on the status of projects being executed in Nigeria to Vice President Kashim Shettima at the Presidential Villa.
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The move, according to the statement, is part of the bank’s initiative to ensure food security in the country.
Three states are to benefit from phase one of the development of processing zones, including Oyo, Kaduna and Cross River, while others are to get theirs as soon as they are through with documentation.
Making AfDB’s presentation to the vice president, Oyelaran-Oyeyinka said, “The Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) is an initiative of the AfDB that is aimed at turning the rural landscape into economic zones of prosperity and harnessing the power of commercial agriculture and food.
“The primary objective is to support inclusive and sustainable agro-industrial development in Nigeria. 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 with their documentation so that we can fast-track these states.
“We raised $540,000,000 in catalytic funding and we expect every state to find a partner that will bring equity and join up with them. It is a government-enabled project but private-sector driven, the regional bank said.
The SSA to the AfDB president further explained that the first phase of SAPZs was being implemented in seven states, namely Cross River, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Ogun, and Oyo, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“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 have to 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.
In another report on the visit to the Ajaokuta Steel Company as earlier commissioned by the vice president, Abimbola Wycliffe, head of the investment and technology promotion office at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), told 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 (SBUs) to serve as profit centres.
“Conduct opportunity studies for each SBU, focusing on incremental investments, raw material availability, labour, utilities, and market demand. Prioritise SBUs with lower investments and quicker positive cash flows (the low-hanging fruits)”.
She further 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, Shettima called for immediate action, saying all hands must be on deck to ensure that the visions of President Bola Tinubu were delivered to the Nigerian people.
“We have passed the age of talking; we have to walk the talk. We can talk from now till eternity and it does not mean anything if there is no action hence we must make this work. We just must.