The African Development Bank (AFDB) and its partners plan to raise $520 million for the first phase of Nigeria’s Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones Programme (SAPZ). The Special Agro-industrial Processing is a flagship initiative of the Bank’s ‘Feed Africa’ strategic priority. The programme aims to provide end-to-end solutions and services that reduce the risk involved in the production, processing, and marketing operations of private sector actors as they boost manufacturing and transformation capacity in production areas. The result is improved livelihoods for millions in the rural areas as well as poverty reduction. Both Federal and State governments in the country have expressed overwhelming support for the initiative. 

At a briefing session last week, Dr. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning reaffirmed the federal government’s commitment to implement enabling policies and incentives to attract private sector investment in the zones. Ahmed explained that the government is committed to successfully implementing the programme to increase agricultural production, reduce poverty, and scale up job creation in the country. SAPZ could generate 25,000 to 30,000 direct jobs

The participants, representatives of the African Development Bank Group, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), provided progress updates on the scheme, following their consultations with key stakeholders within the public and private sectors. The programme will be launched in 18 African countries, including Nigeria, where the first phase is already underway. The Nigeria SAPZ programme consists of four mutually reinforcing components – infrastructure development and agro-industrial hubs management; agriculture productivity and production; policy and institutional development; and programme coordination and management.

The Director-General of the AFDB Nigeria Country Department, Lamin Barrow, said, “The Bank and its development partners are mobilizing $520 million to co-finance the first phase of the program in Nigeria, be implemented in phases across six geo-political zones.” All 36 States in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory would be eligible to participate in the SAPZ programme. In addition to the Federal Capital Territory and seven states – Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Imo, Cross River, Ogun, and Oyo – participating in Phase 1, several other states have indicated an interest in the SAPZ programme. These include Bauchi, Lagos, Niger, Jigawa, Ekiti, Lagos, Taraba, Benue, Sokoto, Ondo, Nasarawa, Gombe, and Kogi.

Prof. Oyebanji Oyeleran-Oyeyinka, the Senior Adviser on Industrialization to the President of the AFDB, stated, “The zone model is an explicit industrialization strategy to transform poor rural spaces into zones of prosperity, stem rural-urban migration, end human insecurity caused by herder-farmer clashes, and provide employment to Nigerian youths.”

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adebayo, commended the strategic initiative of the African Development Bank and its partners, saying, “Strong private sector participation will ensure that the project aligns with the federal government’s industrialization agenda.”

The AFDB’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human, and Social Development, Beth Dunford, emphasized that private sector investment, as well as having the right policies in place, are critical to the success of SAPZs. He promised that, as in other countries, SAPZ will create jobs, promote skills and agricultural value chain development in Nigeria. 

IFAD’s Associate Vice President for Programme Management, Donald Brown, said, “This flagship project will enable us to take our relationship with the African Development Bank to another level. Our relationship started 43 years ago, and since then, we have worked together on 52 projects. But I think the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones are the biggest and most high-profile project that IFAD and the Bank will work on together.”

Solomon Quaynor, African Development Bank’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, noted, “The quality of industrial policies and design will influence the quality of private sector operators that can be attracted into the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones.”

For ISDB, Mr. Ougfaly Badji, Senior Agricultural Economist, said the zones would enable producers, processors, and the entire agricultural value chain in Nigeria, become more functional and profitable.

 AfDB’s intervention funds in Nigeria

The AfDB is a financial provider to African governments and private companies investing in the regional member countries. The AfDB mission is to help reduce poverty, improve living conditions for Africans and mobilize resources for the continent’s economic and social development. 

Combating poverty is at the heart of the continent’s efforts to attain sustainable economic growth. To achieve this, the Bank seeks to stimulate and mobilize internal and external resources to promote investments and provide its regional member countries with technical and financial assistance.

In 2020, the AFDB approved $300 million for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to implement the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) project in Nigeria. The sum of $250 million was also invested in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja to improve technology, agriculture, water supply, and sanitation in satellite towns. 

This year it approved a $50 million loan facility to First City Monument Bank (FCMB) to support local enterprises and women-led businesses in agribusiness, manufacturing, healthcare, and renewable energy. These are just a few of the numerous intervention funds offered by the Bank.

Written by Adekunle Agbetiloye

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