NIGERIA hopes to leverage on the opportunity presented by the ongoing Africa Investment Forum (AIF) in South Africa to attract funding for several critical infrastructural projects, including the Brass fertilizer project and the geometric hydropower project, among others.
Minister for Finance, Zainab Ahmed, said this during an interview with South Africa’s CNBC Television, on the sidelines of the AIF which is organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Ahmed explained that the Muhammadu Buhari administration launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) focus lab, from which it was able to harvest potential investment of about $22 billion. Out of this sum, projects worth about $10 billion were almost already to be commenced, but required “just a little push”, she said.
“So, part of what we hope to achieve in this three-day session is to crystalise financing for six of those projects. One of them is the Brass fertilizer project and there’s also the geometric hydroelectric power project, and four others.
“It is important to us because the power projects bring about a potential for us to the oviate the power deficit that we have in the country. The brass fertilizer project, on the other hand, expands the already existing fertilizer production capacity that we already have in our country. Even though we have up to 22 fertilizer plants that are producing but there’s still a gap.
“So it’s important for us that the deals for these two projects especially are closed within these three days, and we hope that that will happen. If it does, it becomes a very big boost for our economy.”
Ahmed described the AfDB as Nigeria’s bank, pointing out that the country is the largest investor in the AfDB, alongside South Africa.
“AfDB is our bank,” she said. “Together with South Africa, we are the largest investors in the AfDB, and we are looking to invest even more.
“It is a business that is doing very well, we are very happy with the progress that the AfDB is making and therefore we are situating ourselves to invest even more.
“AfDB has become a catalyst of growth; when Nigeria went into recession, it was AfDB that was the first that provided budget support to Nigeria. And then the World Bank said, ‘okay, we would also do this’, and other people followed.
“It became a catalyst for us and today we still ascribe one of the reasons why we were able to come out of recession quickly is because of the support that our bank, AfDB provided.”
Ahmed also commended the current president of the AfDB, Akinwumi Adesina, for the positive innovations he brought to the Nigerian agricultural sector during his time as the Minister of Agriculture during the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan.
These solid foundations, Ahmed said, has positioned the Agric sector as one that is currently contributing about 23 percent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with huge potentials for more.
“We are building on the good foundations that Dr. Akin Adesina had laid. He started a fundamental change in the agricultural sector, a lot of very transformative things,” Ahmed said.
“We are looking at agriculture not just for feeding the nation, but as a business that is already contributing significantly to our GDP. Today agriculture contributes about 23 percent to the GDP and the potential is huge.
“There are more and more people going into agriculture at different levels, but especially at the processing value chain, which is where 70 percent of the value is,” she said.
“As government, we are putting in place policies to support those businesses, to provide financing to them, to support them when they are going to borrow, we have risk sharing schemes.”