The African Development Bank, AfDB, on Tuesday restated its commitment to Nigeria’s development and partnership, just as it identified specific programmes it plans to focus its attention on in 2018.
The Bank’s Country Director, Faal Ebrima, stated this in Abuja during a media briefing to announce the official commissioning of its Nigerian office complex by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday.
Mr. Ebrima, who disclosed that AfDB’s annual support to Nigeria in the last four years averaged between $700 million and $900 million, said the bank’s focal programmes would be on power, health, small and medium scale industries, agriculture and allied businesses, ICT and youth empowerment.
The country director said some of the projects to be executed in partnership with the World Bank and other partners as well as the private sector, include those in Jigawa, Bauchi, Sokoto, Akwa Ibom and Lagos states.
“Apart from the power projects under the ‘Light Programme’, we anticipate supporting the private sector in Nigeria in developing two large world class fertilizer plants, with capacity for internal use and for exports.
“There is also a Santa Clara Clinic in Lagos, which we are working on to provide world class medical facilities to Nigerians, rather than allow them travel outside the country.
“We are also working to provide lines of credit to support cassava processioning and other agric businesses. Those are the broad areas we will be supporting Nigeria this year,” he said.
Besides, the director said the bank would support the transformation of agriculture by developing special crop processing zones, not only in Nigeria, but across Africa, to address the issue of rural agricultural transformation.
He said the zones would help create in the rural areas ‘Zones of Prosperity’, where all necessary infrastructure, including power, works, roads, others would be provided to agricultural communities.
In addition, the bank hopes to develop a farmer out-growers’ scheme, anchor borrowers’ scheme, water and irrigations projects, etc. that would support the special crop processing zones programme.
“So, AfDB’s approach in transforming the rural area is going to revolve around the special crop processing zones. This will be a positive development and could help in addressing the problems in the agric sector not only in Nigeria, but also in Africa,” he said.
On the details of specific projects to be executed by the bank during the year, Mr. Ebrima said the Santa Clara Clinic, and a Cassava project (two private sector financed initiatives) would gulp about $27 million and $36million respectively.
Others include a $200 million Jigawa Solar project; $100million 55MW capacity solar project in Sokoto; a 540 MW Qua Iboe power project that would take about $900 million; a $170 million Bauchi solar project and Skypower solar project.
He said the bank is also planning a transmission lines development project with the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN this year, to help distribute available electricity across the country.
Apart from the physical projects, he said the bank was equally partnering with the Nigerian government to develop the policy and regulatory framework needed to support the power programmes of the government.
On jobs, the director said the bank would be working with the private sector under its flagship initiative, ‘Jobs for Youth’ programme to mainstream – gender (women) and youth engagements on skills development.
“We will be working with the private sector as part of their corporate social respnsibility programmes, to see how we can develop skills among women and youth.
“We are currently working with the Office of the Vice President and Finance Ministry to develop an ICT programme to develop the capacity of youths in ICT to become entrepreneurs.
“The idea is to identify five to six universities that could be developed as centres of excellence to offer these trainings, same as was done in agriculture under the young farmers programme so that rather than rely on government for jobs, the youth could create their jobs,” he said.
On the new Nigerian office Complex, Mr Ebrima said the construction of the building, which gulped about $17million, is a demonstration of the commitment of the bank to Nigeria’s continued development.
“The building is the first permanent structure to be designed and constructed outside the headquarters building in Abidjan. It provides additional evidence about the importance of Nigeria to the bank as its largest shareholder.
“We are saying we are here to stay, to support Nigeria; together with Nigeria to support the regional economy of West Africa. It shows we are committed as the premier African financial institution to Nigeria,” the director said.