NIGERIA – The African Development Bank is planning to support the implementation of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones project in Nigeria with US$300m.

Senior Special Adviser on Industrialisation to AfDB President, Prof. Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, revealed AfDB’s plans at an SAPZ Inception Workshop in Abuja on Monday.

The SAPZs are designed to concentrate agro-processing activities within areas of high agricultural potential.

The zones, which are also expected to create jobs, boost food security and reduce food imports, will enable agricultural producers, processors and distributors to operate in one vicinity.

Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, in a presentation at the event, said AfDB would rally development partners to provide grants and loans for the project and also provide capacity building and technical advice, he added.

AfDB’s Senior Special Adviser on Industrialisation, Prof. Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, said the project’s roadmap was developed completely as a private-driven venture that would boost government’s efforts at revitalising agriculture in the country.

“For us, the central actors are the private sector people, we want to make sure it is private-sector driven,” Prof. Oyebanji said.

Oyelaran-Oyeyinka further revealed that in the first phase of the project, the agro-processing zones would be spread among the six geopolitical zones of the country. This he said would create more access for both farmers and entrepreneurs.

Noting that AfDB was supporting similar projects in 15 countries, he said Nigeria should emulate success stories in countries like Gabon and Senegal where SAPZs had contributed to economic growth.

According to him, the project is also aimed at stemming urban migration, which he said had created a phenomenon of ‘urbanisation without industrialisation’ in Nigerian cities.

Lagos, the country’s most populous city, could be depopulated through establishment of SAPZs, Oyelaran-Oyeyinka said.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono, who was also in attendance noted that SAPZs was a major strategy in the economic diversification programme of the current administration and repositioning for sustainable economic growth and development.

“SAPZs will boost value addition to agriculture, improve competitiveness and in effect, reduce food imports, assure food sufficiency, create jobs for teeming Nigerian youths and in turn grow the nation’s economy by generating revenue,” said Mr. Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono.

According to the minister, the SAPZs are to going to be built around Brownfields where there is developed and existing infrastructure such as rail, road, power and irrigation systems.

The SAPZ are being developed with the support and collaboration of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and financiers like International Finance Corporation (IFC) and African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK).