Kogi government on Tuesday announced that it had secured a $100 million loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to finance some Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) projects in the state.
The state Commissioner for Finance and Budget Planning, Mr. Asiru Idris, disclosed this in Lokoja while declaring open stakeholders meeting on environmental and social impact assessment of the proposed SAPZ and associated developments.
He said that the state was happy to be a beneficiary of the project which, he said, has the potential to bridge the existing gap between production and need, employment, transportation, and power supply.
“The project will create employment for two million people in the state and by extension, curb poverty, reduce youth restiveness and open doors for private investors,” the commissioner explained.
Idris further disclosed that 280 hectares of land would be acquired for the project across five local government areas of the state.
According to him, Kabba/Bunu, Okehi, Adavi, Ijumu and Lokoja are the benefitting local government areas.
He stated that the choice of the local government areas would benefit farmers, processors, aggregators, and distributors to operate almost in the same vicinity.
This, he explained will reduce transaction costs and allow for shared business development services for increased productivity and competitiveness.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. David Apeh, said that the SAPZ project will attract infrastructures like water, road, energy, ICT, and others to the host communities.
He commended Governor Yahaya Bello for the initiative, urging the host communities to ensure peace and focus on the end benefits of the projects.
Presenting details of the project, one of the Coordinators, Dr. Bassey Uzodinma, disclosed that SAPZ is an integrated development initiative, designed to concentrate on agro-processing activities within areas of high agricultural potential.
He said that the aim was to boost productivity, integrate production, processing, and marketing of selected commodities.
According to him, the project will be executed and completed over a period of three and half years.
He, however, advised that the execution of the project must comply with AfDB’s standard requirement, environmental and social safeguard.
“The project must be carried out in a way that will benefit the entire state and generations yet unborn,” he said.
One of the initiators of the project, Chief James Awoniyi, thanked the host communities for releasing land for it, saying that their gesture will not be regretted.
To ensure close supervision and monitoring of the SAPZ project, Awoniyi said that the state government had engaged three consultants to research its various components.
In their separate remarks, the Commissioners for Environment, Mr. Victor Omofaiye, Education, Mr. Wemi Jones, and Commerce and Industry, Mr. Gabriel Olofu, pledged their support for the project.
Speaking on behalf of the host communities, the Chairman of Kabba/Bunu Local Government, Mr. Moses Olorunleke, pleaded that they are carried along in the execution of the project.
He also pleaded that the host communities be well compensated for their contributions.