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Ikpeazu, AfDB close in on new deal for industrial hub in Abia State

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State Tuesday visited the African Development Bank (AfDB) to discuss investment and creation of a potentially viable industrial hub in the state.

The Governor, who met with President of the bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, told the bank that “Our vision is to leverage the capacity of our people to become the SME capital of Nigeria.  Our people are industrious and innovative. For instance, our people are known as top players in the leather industry. We have a new shoe factory that is producing over 50, 000 shoes. We particularly need the Bank’s help to address the State’s infrastructure deficit.”

He explained that with a population of over 2.8 million, Abia State is looking to the Bank to help make Enyimba Economic City (EEC), an ambitious economic hub, a reality. The State Government’s goal is to transform the region into a manufacturing and industrial powerhouse and create 700,000 jobs over 5 years.

The project, presented at the Bank’s 2019 Africa Investment Forum, has received significant investor interest, officials said.  Other investment interests include a waste-to-energy project.

The Bank’s support was also sought to facilitate the Abia State Integrated Infrastructural Project which is designed to develop massive infrastructure in the State, especially in the commercial city of Aba and the State capital of Umuahia.

Ikpeazu also requested the Bank’s support for the development of key agricultural value chains, including palm oil, rice, cocoa, cassava, maize and cashew that would also create jobs for women and youth.

Responding, the Nigerian former Minister of Agriculture told the visiting governor that “huge potential in agro processing and human resources.

“The Bank’s role is to support governments like yours to transform their economies and create jobs,” he said.

“Over the years, Aba has evolved as a centre of entrepreneurship and SMEs.  The city has the potential to be a competitive industrial hub for Nigeria and for Africa. For this reason, the Bank will continue to support your vision,” Adesina concluded.

Since the Bank Group commenced operations in Nigeria in 1971, it has invested about $ 74.5 million in the State, across four critical sectors of power & energy (53%); education (25%); health (15%); and transport (7%). In the years to come, the State will continue to be a key beneficiary of the Bank’s support with the planned Abia State Integrated Infrastructure Development Project and the Enyimba Economic City.

Accompanying the governor were the Commissioner for Works, Chidozie Bob Ogu, Commissioner for Finance, Aham Uko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Ikechi Mgbeoji and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Inter Governmental Affairs, Chinenye Nwaogu.