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AfDB begins disbursement of $540m SAPZs fund – Official

The African Development Bank (AfDB), says it will commence the disbursement of US$540 million to the first batch of states for the development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs).

Senior Special Adviser on Industrialisation to the AfDB President, Prof. Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, made this known while presenting a report to Vice-President Kashim Shettima, on Monday at the Presidential villa, Abuja.

Oyelaran-Oyeyinka led a delegation of the bank and that of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), to present their separate reports on the status of projects being executed in Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the three states to benefit from the first phase of the development of processing zones are Oyo, Kaduna and Cross River.

Other states are to get theirs as soon as they are through with documentation.

Oyelaran-Oyeyinka explained that SAPZ was an initiative of the AfDB 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 their documentation so that we can fast-track them.

“We raised US$540 million 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,” he said.

He further stated that the first phase of SAPZs is 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 basically 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.”

Also, the Head of Investment and Technology Promotion Office, UNIDO, Abimbola Wycliffe, told the Vice-President that the recovery plan for the Ajaokuta Steel Company Ltd. would include revitalization through rehabilitation, modernisation and expansion.

Wycliffe said “Single-phase turnaround for the entire plant is challenging due to heavy investments and a prolonged revenue generation timeline.

“We will 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 materials availability, labour, utilities, and market demands.

“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.

She recommended the enhancement of foreign exchange earnings and contribution to local economic development in the country

Responding, Shettima said that all hands must be on deck to ensure that the visions of President Bola Tinubu are delivered to the Nigerian people.

According to him, it is time to walk the talk.

“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 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 ship building.

“And how Hyundai, Daewoo, Samsung, Kia have come on board. I believe that when there is a will there is always a way,” he said.

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