The African Development Bank (AfDB), has approved a $210 million loan to co-finance the first phase of the Nigeria Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) programme.
This, is said, would help unlock the country’s agriculture sector potential and promote industrialisation through the development of strategic crops and livestock.
The loan, which was approved by the Bank’s Board of Directors, is made up of $160 million from the AfDB, and $50 million from Africa Growing Together Fund (AGTF).
AfDB in a statement said the first phase of the project will target seven Nigerian states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, and will be implemented with co-financing from other partners for $538.05 million.
According to the bank, the project will support Nigeria’s efforts to raise agricultural productivity, promote investment, create wealth and jobs, and transform rural areas into corridors of economic prosperity.
Speaking on the initiative, AfDB President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said: “This first phase of the programme is not government-driven. It is government-enabled and private sector-led. That is the critical way in which you have a structural transformation of agriculture.
“It is impressive to see a strong commitment from the Nigerian government – a very strong commitment from the Nigerian Minister of Finance, and all of the state governments because they have to give the land, they make sure that all the regulations and incentives are provided.”
On his part, the Director-General of the Bank’s Nigeria Country Office, Lamin Barrow, said: “Phase 1 of the Nigeria Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones Program will mobilize private sector investment in the agro-industrial hubs and agricultural transformation centres. It will impact some 1.5 million households as direct beneficiaries, with a target of creating 400,000 direct jobs and up to 1.6 million indirect jobs.”
The states where the first phase of the programme will be implemented were selected based on a readiness criterion as well as the need to ensure geographical balance across Nigeria’s six geo-political zones.
AfDB explained that the SAPZ is a flagship of its Feed Africa Strategy, designed to concentrate production, processing, storage, transport and the marketing of commodities like cotton and maize to increase productivity and competitiveness and reduce logistics costs, noting that it plans to establish the zones in 17 other African countries.
The statement reads, “The Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones Program is expected to bring economic infrastructure to rural areas of high agricultural potential. These zones will attract private agro-industrialist and entrepreneur investment, contribute to Nigeria’s economic and social development, and stem rural-to-urban migration.
“The project areas account for 19% of Nigeria’s total landmass and will benefit 50.4 million people. The states where the first phase of the programme will be implemented were selected based on a readiness criterion as well as the need to ensure geographical balance across Nigeria’s six geo-political zones.
“In addition to African Development Bank financing for Phase 1 of the Nigeria project, the Islamic Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development will provide parallel co-financing.”
“Nigeria’s federal and state governments will contribute both in cash and kind. SAPZ is Nigeria’s plan to revitalise its agricultural sector by providing a means for agricultural key players to access and drive industrialised agro-processing.
“Nigeria Phase 1 Zone construction is expected to augment the following value chain commodities: Cross River State – cocoa, rice and cassava, Federal Capital Territory – beef and dairy livestock, Imo State – beef and dairy livestock, Kaduna State – tomato, maize and ginger, Kano State – rice, tomato, groundnuts and sesame oil, Kwara State – livestock, Ogun State – cassava, rice, poultry and fisheries, Oyo State – cassava, soybean, rice.”