Nigeria endorses AfDB’s Agro-Industrial Zones

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A regional initiative that is
expected to provide millions of jobs for youth and rural dwellers in Nigeria
with employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, Special Agro-Industrial
Processing Zones (SAPZ) have been endorsed by the government and investors.

SAPZ, the initiative of the
African Development Bank is designed to concentrate agro-processing activities
within areas of high agricultural potential in order to increase productivity
and competitiveness.

Speaking at an investment forum
at the Bank’s office in Abuja, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural
Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said the country was eager to work with the Bank
to develop SAPZs.

“I can’t thank the African
Development Bank and all the investors gathered here today enough.

“We need to make agriculture work
again. It is with initiatives like this that we can truly create wealth and
employment for our teeming youth population,” Ogbeh said.

The investment forum was an
opportunity to secure the commitment of key agribusiness companies and banks in
the planning, investment and implementation of priority SAPZs in Nigeria.

Key participants included top
government officials and big industry players, including the Dangote Group, the
Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Flour Mills of Nigeria, and Olam
International.

Others are the Nigeria Private
Sector Alliance (NiPSA), the International Labour Organization (ILO),
commercial and development banks, the United Nations Industrial Organization
(UNIDO), and the Cocoa Association of Nigeria.

They described it as a pathway to
Africa’s agricultural revolution.

Prof. Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka,
Special Adviser on Industrialization to the African Development Bank President,
said the initiative could boost the gross domestic product (GDP) of rural
regions and bridge the rural-urban divide.

“Nigeria currently trails in the
supply of quality agro-processing products. Nigeria must take advantage of the
opportunities in this sector to create non-oil sector jobs and raise its GDP,”
he said.

Africa could become a net
exporter of agricultural commodities, potentially replacing imports worth $110
billion.

The continent could also double
its market share for select processed commodities.

The value of Africa’s
agribusiness sector is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030 and has been
described the next “oil sector”.

“This investors’ forum is
extremely critical. Those of us working in the sector will work closely with
the African Development Bank and the government of Nigeria on this huge
opportunity,” said businessman Mansur Mohammed Ahmed, Executive Director of the
Dangote Group and Chairman of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).

“We support the SAPZs
intervention of the African Development Bank. Our Group is interested in
investing in agri-inputs production and supply across the Special
Agro-Industrial Processing Zones to be set up,” said Sadiz Kassim, Director at
Tropical General Investments Group (TGI Group) − a major industry player.

Together with its development
partners, the Bank is investing heavily to rapidly scale up agricultural
production. The SAPZ’s depend on strong public and private sector partnerships.

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