***EEC would boost Nigeria’s participation in the Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA)
By Felix Kassim
In a bid to create over 700,000 jobs, Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, says he has secured about $430 million in investment from African Development Bank (AfDB), private investors and other multilateral financial institutions to fast track the development of Enyimba Economic City (EEC).
The Governor who revealed this when he addressed journalists upon his arrival from Africa Investment Forum (AIF) in Johannesburg, South Africa, explained that he presented the EEC to investors at the forum and gained the trust of many participants who agreed that the City is a project worthy of their commitment and demonstrated their willingness to invest in the city.
Ikpeazu said that “EEC would boost Nigeria’s participation in the Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).” While expressing appreciation to the President Buhari-led federal government for supporting the project, he reiterated that the EEC would create not less than 700,0000 jobs within 10 years.
“The time has come for our people to move from trading to manufacturing. EEC is the vehicle through which we are going to achieve that.” Ikpeazu, added.
The Governor also disclosed that Olam International, one of the world’s leading food and agri-business companies, has already disclosed its interest in establishing a textile factory in Enyimba Free Trade Zone.
Furthermore, Ikpeazu observed that while other African countries had benefitted from the funding opportunity provided by the Africa Investment Forum, Nigeria has yet to benefit. He said that Nigeria presented four projects at the 2019 AIF; the Enyimba Economic City, Lagos Chemical and others.
He went on to say that the advisors and financiers of EEC are the African Export-Import Bank, African Development Bank, and the International Finance Corporation.
AfDB also in it reports has stated that of the 56 boardroom deals valued at $67.6 billion tabled at the forum with 52 deals worth $40.1 billion securing investor interest, Enyimba Economic City was among the deals that caught investors’ interest.
Ekiti State governor Dr Kayode Fayemi, Abia State governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, and Governors of Kwara and Cross River State represented Nigeria’s governors at the year’s AIF.
Recall that EEC won the first Charter Cities Business Plan Contest for 2019 with a cash prize of $25,000 last month.
To clinch the coveted prize, the Enyimba Economic City beat several other participating Cities from around the world including Blackstone Charter Cities of Australia and Novgorod New Hanse Town of Russia who came 2nd and 3rd respectively.
A statement released by the Charter Cities Institute, organizers of the contest, stated thus; “the Institute is pleased to announce the winners of our Charter Cities Business Plan Contest. After application reviews and interviews, 1st prize and $25,000 is awarded to Enyimba Economic City (Nigeria), 2nd prize, $10,000, to Blackstone Charter Cities (Australia), and 3rd prize to Novgorod New Hanse Town (Russia).
“We launched the Charter Cities Business Plan Contest to identify teams around the world with forward-looking, viable plans for a Charter City.The winners each exceeded our expectations regarding the location, target industries, and growth potential of their respective Charter Cities.The Charter Cities Institute looks forward to working with all three teams as they execute their plans.”
According to Abia State government, “the Enyimba Economic City is a proposed Free-Trade Zone 9464-hectares Greenfield Charter City. It is structured with independent business registry, labor law, banking regulations and more. It is located in the Oil producing communities of Abia State, between Aba and Port Harcourt. Privately-led with stakeholders that include the local community, state government (Abia State), and the Federal Government.
“It will connect the 9 states of South-East and South-South Nigeria, with a population of about 60 million, turning the area into a global business hub. The city will leverage existing / improved infrastructure, including high-grade roads, rail, airports, inland ports, natural gas pipelines, a 540 MW powerplant, water treatment and waste management. It will feature a state-of-the-art administrative structure to attract residents and businesses.
“The Cities’ core industry will be manufacturing, with ancillary drivers including logistics, medical, entertainment, education, commerce, lifestyle residency, and aviation.”
Meanwhile, AIF is a market place for project developers, investors, borrowers, lenders, policy makers and public- and private-sector investors to encourage investment in Africa. In order to attract funding for Africa projects, the African Development Bank launched the inaugural Africa Investment Forum in 2018.
The forum is an innovative, multi-stakeholder transactional marketplace conceived by the African Development Bank, aimed at raising capital, advancing projects to the bankable stage, and accelerating financial closure of deals.
AIF inaugural edition was launched in partnership with Africa50, Afrexim Bank, the Trade Development Bank, the Development Bank of South Africa, the Islamic Development Bank, the Africa Finance Corporation, and the European Investment Bank.