Diplomacy

New Beginnings

Kano’s investment drive

In the current drive for economic diversification from hydrocarbons, Kano State is leading the charge and deploying a multitude of policies to improve the business environment and promote investment in agriculture, automotive, and power generation, among others.

Once a fundamental cornerstone of Nigeria’s economy, agricultural products have been losing relevance as cheap imports and contraband through the country’s porous borders progressively flooded the market. Recently, the federal government and individual state governors have been investing large amounts of capital to help modernize and make agricultural investments more efficient. In Kano State, rice production is at the center of these efforts as the country strives to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production. In December 2018, President Buhari inaugurated a new rice mill in Kano, which now processes 250 tons of the commodity per day. By June 2019, the mill is targeting a production of 500 tons of rice per day.

Speaking to TBY, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Governor of Kano State, discussed the policies the state is deploying to help develop this and other endeavors in the agricultural sector. “We discovered that most farmers were not producing at a profitable rate, which discouraged them. They imported rice, wheat, and tomato paste, for example, for cheaper than what it took to produce. The federal government had to ban the importation of certain foods to protect them. We provided NGN100 million for the purchase of improved seeds, which has increased participation. Another issue was with fertilizers, which were imported because of subsidies. We helped a local fertilizer company by providing new machinery and servicing for the old ones and building up new management. Now, we are home to the largest fertilizer producer in northern Nigeria.”

Adding to these efforts, the federal state and the state’s governor are working together in providing the necessary conditions for the sector to thrive. In January 2019, the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria announced more than 120,000 rice farmers in Kano State would benefit from the federal government’s Anchor Borrower Program to help with modernization and labor costs for the year’s crops. Under the program, each farmer will receive no less than NGN220,000.

In its strive for economic sustainability and business development, Kano State has also been invested in developing power generation projects. Chief amongst these is the Qua Iboe 540-MW Power Plant in Akwa Ibom. In January 2019, the federal state gave Kano the green light for the development of the project, which will greatly improve the state’s energy generation network and consequently facilitate industrial development by closing the state’s power generation gap. The state will also be creating the Kano State Bulk Electricity Trading Company, the first of its kind in Nigeria, which will be purchasing the power generated in the new plant. However, the state is also opening opportunities in the renewable energy sector for small/medium and utility-scale projects. “Pertaining to solar energy, the federal government has liberalized electricity generation and we are now inviting companies to play in this sphere. To attract them, we offer free land to any company that wants to produce solar energy. The government will also pay compensation on the land and provide a certificate of occupancy for the land,” Ganduje stated.

Within this context, the state’s leaders have also been improving the conditions for industrial development. In a demonstration of a growing partnership with the country’s leaders, French automotive maker Peugeot has announced the construction of an assembly factory in Kaduna State. The project includes investment from Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and five northern Nigerian states, including Jigawa, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna, and Kano. The plant, which will start operations in 1Q2019, will produce 3,500 units in the first year and grow to 10,000 units at a later stage. Already, 150 Nigerian automobile mechanics sponsored by the Kano State government have graduated from Peugeot’s Training School and will be employed at the automotive plant. These graduates are only a part of the state’s empowerment program, which has already educated 1,850 youths in different fields of expertise to provide investors with the right human resources and business conditions to develop new industrial and agricultural projects. In all, Kano State has placed itself at the forefront of Nigeria’s economic diversification and modernization drive, which is bound to attract investors and entrepreneurs alike.

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