A delegation from Abia State of Nigeria, led by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, today in Cairo conducted a one-day visit to the Headquarters of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).
The delegation hold discussions with Bank representatives on how the continental trade finance bank could support the state’s effort at industrialization.
Mr. Ikpeazu told Afreximbank officials that the state intended to leverage on its competitive advantage by tapping into the industrial clusters that already existed in the Aba area of the state.
According to him, there are some 250 clusters in Aba, each employing about four people, which have been actively engaged in producing garments and other wears that are exported and then rebranded with foreign labels before being sold in the international market, including Nigeria.
An industrial city, Enyimba Industrial City, had been conceptualized where infrastructure would be provided and other support structures made available to catalyse industrialization in the state and in Nigeria’s Southeast region, he said.
Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said that the state’s approach resonated with the Bank’s new Strategic Plan which had the promotion of intra-African trade as one of its key pillars.
Under the Bank’s Intra-African Trade Strategy, it was supporting the development of industrial parks, export processing zones and special economic zones, he said. It was also supporting the creation of export trading companies to help take the goods manufactured in the industrials parks, such as the one envisaged in Aba, into the export market.
The Bank was, in addition, working to establish certification centres in Africa, with the first planned for Nigeria, so that goods manufactured on the continent, such as the shoes and garments produced in Aba, could receive quality certification labels that would make them more acceptable for sale in export markets, stated Dr. Oramah.
In a presentation on the Enyimba Industrial City, Darl Uzu of Crown Realties Plc., promoters of the city, said that it was being created as a zone of economic activities that would leverage on Aba as the main commercial and industrial city in Nigeria’s Southeast.
It would provide a serviced area that would integrate marketing, warehousing, logistics, industrial and ancillary services, such as residences, schools, hospitals, entertainment facilities, etc. It would also come with incentives to attract local and international companies.
In another presentation, Prof. Bart Nnaji, Chairman of Geometric Power Limited, said that the company’s Aba Integrated Power Project, which is the first independent power generation plant in Nigeria and the country’s first integrated power project, had already installed and cold-commissioned a 141-megawatt gas-fired power plant, with an additional 47-megawatt turbine to be installed as part of the investment.
It had also built a 27-kilometre gas pipeline and built an electricity distribution utility with a ring-fenced distribution network covering the Aba Industrial City and the surrounding communities, he said.
Prof. Nnaji said that the plant would generate and deliver electricity to industrial, commercial and residential off-takers in the area, and would supply its excess power to the national grid.
Accompanying the delegation was Dr. Paschal Dozie, also of Geometric Power Limited, and retired Gen. Obi Umahi, a former General Officer Commanding the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army.