Heritage Bank Plc, the African Export Import Bank (Afrexim) and Zamfara State government have signed $1billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the areas of mining, agriculture, water resources and others.
Heritage Bank is the banker to the project.
Another financial handler involved in the MoU is PAC Capital Limited, which is the investment banking arm of Pan African Capital Holdings, committed to facilitating investment activities and enabling growth across the continent.
Speaking with the press at the signing of the MoU in Abuja, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo, said the win-win collaboration amongst the institutions would promote and fast track support to Zamfara to enable it explore its unharnessed resources for the benefit of its people and the nation’s economy.
According to him, the bold initiative would help unlock massive opportunities inherent in solid minerals and support efforts on local content promotion, facilitate industrial development and export development.
Sekibo said: “It is a game changer that will drive formidable economic growth for the state government, serve as backbone to the economy through job creation, as well a way of cushioning the present economic situation.”
Also speaking, the President/Chairman, Board of Director, Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, said the bank was delighted to be part of the partnership towards unlocking the abundant opportunities in the state.
He said: “We had a very fruitful meeting with the delegation from Zamfara State led by the governor.
“In AfreximBank, we are pleased that the leadership of the state has a clear vision. They have identified clearly the strengths of their state, the opportunities and what they need to unlock these opportunities.
“They have decided to take their own destiny in their hands, which is actually the foundation of the federal structure that we operate in Nigeria–that states should do all they can to maximise the use of the resources they have for the benefit of their people, so that collectively, we can grow the economy of Nigeria to become more that it is today.
“We also discussed resources partnership in the areas of agriculture and water to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities presented by the system in Zamfara State, not only to generate electricity but also for agriculture, including other core production for export and consumption locally.
“We also discussed partnership to revive the cotton industry in Zamfara State. There is no reason why the state cannot produce cotton as Republic of Benin which is now the largest producer of cotton in Africa.
“We also discussed how to support the state with regard to animal husbandry and production of beef using modern facilities.
“So, altogether, the investments we have discussed which we prioritise based on the speed of having to get them done amounts to about $1billion.”
The state governor, Bello Matawalle, who commended Heritage Bank for facilitating the funds, said the discussion commenced barely two weeks ago in Dubai.
“We started this discussion just about two weeks ago when we met with some Afreximbank people in Dubai with the Managing Director of Heritage Bank for which he promised to deliver our message to the bank.
“Zamfara State, as you are all aware, had so many issues before my emergence as the governor, for which reason and to limited time, just a month, God helped us to tackle some of these issues. He said his administration is committed to making the state a full secured state.
“We have started that by engaging the bandits in peace, which they have accepted to lay down their arms. As at today, Mr. President, we have secured the release of over 300 people that are under captivity. The securing of the release of these people was done without any commitment; no single kobo or ransom was paid to the bandits.
“So we assure you that Zamfara State is safe for investors, they can come to the state. They can come to the state and the government is committed to making sure that everything is out in place to guarantee their security.
“We thank you for the investment of about $1 billion which can cover manufacturing, power, infrastructure, mining and Agriculture. We assure you that we have all the potentials to utilise the said funds in order to move Zamfara State forward.” he said.