The African Development Bank (AfDB) has reiterated its commitment to partnering with the Enugu State Government in the areas of investment, infrastructure, and other projects that would attract development and transform the lives of the citizens in the state.
This was even as the President of Skipper Seil Group, a globally renowned engineering, power and infrastructure company, Jitender Sachdeva, lauded Enugu State governor, Dr. Peter Mbah, over the positive steps taken in the energy sector, assuring that the company would partner to assist the state in developing its infrastructure.
Speaking at the Government House, Enugu, on Thursday, during a meeting with the governor at the Government House, Enugu, the Director-General of AfDB’s Nigeria Country Department, Lamin Barrow, said Nigeria was strategic to the development bank’s programmes.
He said that phase one of some of the programmes, especially in the area of Special Agro-Processing Zone (SAPZ) which was worth about $18 million had been approved.
He explained that the African foremost development and financial bank was in the process of rolling out the second phase, which would integrate the needs of Enugu State Government.
Barrow further said the phase two of the programme would support the implementation of the SAPZ project, which the state had already undertaken, pointing to agro-allied crops such as cassava, maize, among other strategic staples where the state commands competitive advantage.
“What the SAPZ is doing is to help develop value chains for these crops, adding value to primary crops, help in reducing post-harvest losses, develop strong linkages with stakeholder farmers, training and creating financial support for the farmers’ activities, but but most importantly, driven by anchor private-sector investors”, he stated.
The DG of the AfDB also said the bank would assist the state in de-risking investment flow in its efforts to strengthen and enhance production, and drive agricultural produce beyond food security to export for the state and Nigeria in general.
On his part, Skipper Group President, Jitender Sachdeva, said his company had already concluded plans with the governor to construct the green special agro-allied industry zone, which also falls within the AfDB’s programme.
He said the infrastructure, which the company was collaborating with AfDB to step up, would facilitate the ease of doing business in the state and ensure self-sustained green electricity for each factory operating in the state.
“We are here for you in terms of infrastructure, power, agro-processing zones, among other projects. With the kind of energy, positivity, simplicity I have seen in you, around you, I can assure you we are going to start immediately,” he concluded.
Reacting, Governor Mbah expressed excitement over the choosing of Enugu State by the AfDB and other development partners for the second phase of the Special Agro-Processing Zone, saying his administration had already committed huge capital in the sector and would be ready to explore the opportunities AfDB presented to the state.
He assured the AfDB that Enugu had fulfilled all the pre-conditions for the project to take off.
“I want to inform you that Enugu State is ready and we have prepared all the prerequisite documentations, and all the surveys you need to be able to get started with this project.
“We have done the environmental and social impact assessments. We have identified a sizeable land that will host a Special Agro-Processing Zone, putting aside over 1000 hectares very close to the city that would be used for the Special Agro-Processing Zone. We have also done the feasibility studies”.
While underscoring that the state has a fertile land, almost performing better than other states in the cultivation and production of soya beans, cassava, rice, maize, cashew nuts, pineapple, among other food crops, the governor reiterated the effort of his administration to continue to make the state attractive to investors and tourists.
He explained that the state was full of economic and investment opportunities, calling on investors to see Enugu as their first choice for investment in the country, and promised that the ongoing state of emergency declared on the health sector would guarantee a healthy workforce.
The governor equally expressed interest in working with the bodies in the power sector to drive the state’s industrial revolution, insisting that Enugu was being positioned to play leadership role in the power industry given the recent enactment of the Enugu State Electricity Law.
“We’re now ready to play the role of a regulator in the electricity value chain, whether it’s generation, transmission or distribution. So in terms of the ease of obtaining your operating license, your construction licenses, you do not need to go beyond the state when we are in the position to provide those licenses, generating license, transmitting license and distributing license. We now have the regulatory commission to provide those licenses. In terms of the demand, you also have a huge demand for electricity. We have quite a number of industries here and we’re also even on the verge of bringing more because we’re already talking to some prospective investors,” he concluded.