As Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Kastina State prepares to host economic experts and foreign investors at an economic summit fixed for next month, Iyobosa Uwugiaren takes a look at the options before the state
How has Katsina State government fared in providing enabling business environment? How business-friendly is the state? How does it maintain the sustainability of food production all year round?
These are some of vexed issues experts from all works of life will attempt to resolve at the planned Kastina State Economic and Investment Summit 2016 holding between May 9 and 11, 2016.
Entitled ‘’Unlocking Investment Potential for Sustainable Development,’’ expected participants in the three-day summit include, Agribusiness entrepreneurs wishing to network with potential partners; producers and investors who want to explore new opportunities in agribusiness; investors in solid minerals, power, property development, tourism, transportation, hospitality, and creative arts industries; investors, fund managers seeking solid investable projects and banking executives and other financiers.
Others are captains of industry, professionals and entrepreneurs; regional and international agency officials — involved in development and financing of agri-business and projects and business journalists.
Holding in President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state, the president is expected as the Special Guest of Honour, while Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President of Dangote Group, will deliver a goodwill message, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, will present a keynote address.
Structured to be an interactive summit, the President, African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina; the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefile; the Chief of Party, USAID-NEXT, Mr. Marc Shiman, and Dr. Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi, have all accepted to present papers on different topics at the summit.
Some of the deliverables at the summit include creating awareness and securing the buy-in of the citizens of the state into the government’s policy thrust and intended investment climate; create a platform for dialogue with potential investors; discuss the specific needs of those willing to invest in Katsina State; share investment ideas with the target audience; harness all the state’s unutilised and underutilised natural resources towards creating an efficient investment climate thereby creating a prosperous state; and revitalize the state’s private sector for optimal productivity, higher returns and employment generation/enhance the visibility of the state as an attractive investment destination.
‘’Stakeholders located within the LAKAJI Corridor States (states along the rail line that runs from Lagos Port to Kano terminating in Jibia in Katsina State), other states in Nigeria and the International Investing Community will be present to witness the opportunities available in the state. This will also mark the official commencement of the synergy between the LAKAJI Corridor States, other states of the Federation and the international community’’, Ms. Safiya Adamu, media and economic consultant to the summit told THISDAY.
‘’The Summit will also provide a robust platform for business connection for Public Private Partnership (PPP), Business-to-Business (B2B), Person-to-Person (P2P) and Consumer- to -Business (C2B).’’
She said the summit targets Agric – business, power, solid minerals, property development, hospitality and creative arts industry. While target countries include, Nigeria, Asia and the Middle East, European and the Americas and Africa.
She added, ‘’As major changes greet African economic growth and development terrain, efforts to revert the trends suggest new ways of doing business on the continent that completely reside outside the box. It’s clear today that only business-led development trajectories make the unfailing mark of the greatest and most sustainable socio-economic impact over time.’’
Providing justification for the economy summit, the former Chair, Editorial Board, LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Ms. Adamu, said the economic agro-corridors are strategic tools that attract private sector capital investment to projects that benefit agriculture and agribusiness – in providing jobs and boosting food security in a country.
She added, ‘’Corridors are development programs that foster promising economic sectors, notably in agriculture, especially, in a country like Nigeria that is connected by myriads of modes of transportation.
‘’As an intricate part of the Lagos-Kano-Jibiya (LAKAJI) Corridor, Katsina’s strength lies in the possibility of integrating investments, policy frameworks and local institutions. The Kastina Economy Summit 2016 will lead Katsina to harness smarter planning initiatives aimed at enhancing agricultural (and other) opportunities.’’
The geography and the demographic nature of the state may be a huger investment opportunities. To be sure, Katsina State is situated at the far Northern part of Nigeria, approximately between Latitude 11o 30’ and 13o 32’N and Longitude 6o 52’ and 9o 02’E – covering an area of about 24,192 km2.
It is bounded to the North by Niger Republic, East by Jigawa and Kano States, South by Kaduna State and to the West by Zamfara State. According to the Bureau of Public Statistics (NPS2006), the state ranks as the fifth most populous state in the country, with an estimated population of about 5.8 million, and an annual population growth rate of 3.0%.
The state, like the rest of the country, has a young population where approximately 60 percent are within the age range of 15 to 64 years. Experts say, this gives the state an added advantage of a large pool of sustainable workforce.
Interacting with the business community recently, the state governor, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, said that Katsina State is richly endowed with huge Investments opportunities.
For example, he said the economy of the state is basically agrarian with a cultivable 2.4 million hectares of land out of which 1.6million is under cultivation, leaving land area of 800,000 hectares, equivalent to one third of the total cultivable land available for investment. The state also has over 61 water bodies suitable for irrigation farming with a capacity of 1121CU.m. The major water bodies with a combined water surface area of 558Cum are located at Sabke, Jibia, and Gwaigwaye.
In the state, farming and rearing of animals constitute the means of livelihoods of about 80% of the population of the state. The state is a major collection centre for cash crops such as cotton, groundnuts and food crops such as maize, guinea corn, millet, and vegetables.
The range of livestock in the state is cattle, sheep, goat and poultry. And the state says, these provides huge opportunities for setting up of large scale agro-allied industries such as sugar processing, rice milling, oil and flour milling, textiles, dairy production, confectioneries, meat processing, tannery, and poultry production and others.
Other economic activities available in the state are property, energy, banking, transportation, small scale enterprises and trading. In the estimation of the organiser of the summit, there are over ten mega markets and other medium and smaller ones throughout the length and breadth of the state. And it said these markets provide the largest supply of grains and livestock in Nigeria and other West African Countries. They also serve as feeder to the famous Dawanau Market in Kano.
In Infrastructure facilities, Katsina State is accessible by road, air, communication network of telephones, post office, courier services, and Global System Mobile (GSM). There is also a railway link from the seaport of Lagos passing through the cities of Ibadan and Kaduna among others to Funtua in Katsina state, stretching up to Kauran Namoda in Zamfara state.
‘’Katsina State has adequate road network across its length and breadth as all the 34 local governments areas of the State are accessible. In terms of intra- city roads, the state capital is well served as all the roads within the state capital are smoothly tarred’’, Ms. Adamu added.
‘’For manpower development, there are four universities, a polytechnic, two colleges of education, Ahmadu Bello University School of Basic and Remedial Studies. There are a number of business apprenticeship training centres established to provide vocational training to the unemployed youth in various skills such as brick-laying, auto mechanic, electrical works, welding, carpentry, refrigeration, GSM repairs, catering and hospitality services, etc.’’
In mainstream global investment circles, she added that the state meets the sustainability as well as risk-adjusted returns and political-risk ratings that are fundamental requirements for economic growth.
‘’In Katsina State, sustainable return implies more than a continuous flow of profit. The government and people have injected streams of social responsibility inputs in terms of type, timeframe and structure of an investment, making it one of the few northern states that bring genuine benefit to its people through investments, guaranteeing maximal returns on investment’’, she emphasized.
Governor Masari said in order to ensure good living condition for the citizens, the state government will continue to improve the capacity of Micro, Small and Medium enterprises through capacity building, access to finance and integration within the Industries.
‘’For this reasons government will continue to engage all willing Entrepreneurs who wish to invest and create value in Katsina State,’’ he added.