The African Development Bank (AfDB) is set to disburse $540 million for the first phase of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) in Nigeria.
The initial phase targets three states – Oyo, Kaduna, and Cross River – with others expected to follow suit upon completion of documentation. Prof. Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Senior Special Adviser on Industrialization to the AfDB President, highlighted that SAPZs aim to transform rural areas into economic hubs through sustainable agro-industrial development.
“We raised $540,000,000 in catalytic funding, expecting each state to secure a partner for equity. It’s a government-enabled, private-sector-driven initiative,” Oyelaran-Oyeyinka explained.
He outlined eligibility criteria for states, including feasibility reports, environmental impact studies, and a commitment to counterpart funding.
The first phase is underway in seven states and the Federal Capital Territory. Ogun State opted out, finding a partner independently, allowing for the redistribution of the loan to other states. Plans for phase two encompass 27 states, prioritizing those demonstrating swift progress.
Meanwhile, a report on the revitalization plan for Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited was presented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
The recovery strategy involves rehabilitation, modernization, and expansion, aiming to convert the integrated steel plant into strategic business units (SBUs).
Head of Investment and Technology Promotion Office at UNIDO, Abimbola Olufore Wycliffe, emphasized the importance of incremental investments and urged prioritization of SBUs with lower investments and quicker positive cash flows.
Vice President Shettima emphasized the need for prompt action, urging both the government and development partners to align actions with commitments.
Responding to the reports, Vice President Shettima called for immediate action, stating, “We have passed the age of talking; we have to walk the talk. Things must change. When there is a will, there is always a way.”
The VP stressed the importance of delivering on the vision of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and highlighted the need for tangible progress in transforming the economic landscape.
The disbursement of funds for SAPZs and the revitalization of Ajaokuta Steel Company align with Nigeria’s efforts towards sustainable economic growth and development.