Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has secured the go-ahead of the African Development Bank (AfDB), private investors and other multilateral financial institutions for the investment of $430 million to fast-track the development of Enyimba Economic City (EEC).
The city is a proposed free-trade zone, with independent business registry, labor law, banking regulations and more, which is 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, 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 Abia State Government 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 is yet to benefit.
This, he said, explained why the country presented four projects at the 2019 AIF. The four projects include Enyimba Economic City and Lagos Chemical Industries.
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.
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 (EEC).
Ikpeazu said the 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 not less than 700, 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.”
The forum is an innovative, multi-stakeholder transactional marketplace conceived by the African Development Bank, which is 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.
The Ekiti State Governor Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu; Kwara and Cross River State governors were among the dignitries who attended this year’s programme.