Ikpeazu Secures $430 million Deal for Enyimba Economic City

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  • Says EEC would boost Nigeria’s participation in AfCFTA

Tobi Soniyi 

Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has secured the nod of the African Development Bank (AfDB), private investors and other multilateral financial institutions for investment of $430 million to fast track the development of the first phase of Enyimba Economic City (EEC).

The city is a proposed free-trade zone, with independent business registry, labor law, banking regulations and more, located on over 9,500 hectares of land in the oil producing communities of Abia State, between Aba and Port Harcourt.

The governor, who spoke in Lagos during an interaction with journalists at the weekend, said he presented the EEC to investors at the just concluded Africa Investment Forum (AIF) held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

According to him, many of the participants at the forum agreed that ECC is a project worthy of their commitment and demonstrated their willingness to invest in the city.

The project is privately-led, but stakeholders include the local community, the state government (Abia State), and the federal government.

Advisors and financiers of the EEC include the African Export-Import Bank, African Development Bank, and the International Finance Corporation.

The governor observed that while other African countries had benefitted from the funding opportunity provided by the Africa Investment Forum, Nigeria has yet to benefit.

This, he said, explained why the country presented two projects at the 2019 AIF. The four projects include Enyimba Economic City and Lagos Cable Car projects.

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 African 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, the European Investment Bank.

At this year’s event, four governors attended, including Dr Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Ikpeazu, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdul-Razak (Kwara) and Prof. Ben Ayade (Cross River).

According to AfDB, 56 boardroom deals valued at $67.6 billion were tabled at the forum while 52 deals worth $40.1 billion secured investor interest.

Among the deals that secured investors’ interest was the Enyimba Economic City.

Ikpeazu said that EEC would boost Nigeria’s participation in the Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

He thanked the federal government for supporting the project which he said would create about 600,000 jobs within 10 years.

The governor 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 ECC.

Ikpeazu said: “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.”

Last month, ECC won the first Charter Cities Business Plan Contest for 2019 with a cash prize of $25,000.

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.

In a statement released by the Charter Cities Institute, organizers of the contest, the Institute said: “We are 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.”

ECC is a 9,464-hectare Greenfield Charter City. 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 and improved infrastructure, including high-grade roads, rail, airports, inland ports, natural gas pipelines, a 540 MW powerplant, water treatment and waste management.

Enyimba Economic City will feature a state-of-the-art administrative structure to attract residents and businesses.

Enyimba’s core industry will be manufacturing, with ancillary drivers including logistics, medical, entertainment, education, commerce, lifestyle residency, and aviation.

The city with an annual output of over $5 billion will provide over 600,000 direct jobs, massively transform the economy of the south-eastern region of Nigeria and even beyond.

Several multilateral institutions have also dubbed the city one of the most transformational projects in Africa today.