The federal government on Tuesday said the proposed Special Agro-Processing Zones (SAPZs) by the African Development Bank (AfDB) will help the country generate $150 billion in foreign reserve in the next 10 years.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, during a press conference for the maiden Industrial Summit and Expo, noted that the zero oil economy advocated by the federal government could only be sustained when the zones were harnessed.
Prince Agba, while emphasising the need for investment in industrialisation in the country, said the zones would be in Kaduna, Kano, Ogun, Imo, Kwara and Cross River states.
He said, “One of the aims of the project is to at least lift 10 million Nigerians out of poverty and empower each state and its people by integrating them into the export value chain. These efforts, therefore, would unlock the potential of each state on the development and promotion of at least one crop for export.”
He explained that the programme was centred on commercial agribusiness which would attract direct investment for infrastructure development like rail and silos for transporting and storing of crops.
He added that the federal government had undertaken a deliberate effort to move from sole dependence on oil for revenue as the non-oil sector now contributed 55 per cent of government revenue.
Earlier, the President of AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, lamented the lack of political will to enable the economy to grow beyond oil.
While stating that inactions by political leaders led to Nigeria being left behind by its peers, he called for maximum support for the programme.
He stated that the programme would be led by the private sector with AfDB responsible for the provision of infrastructure, adding that the project would be situated in agrarian areas.
Dr Adeshina said, “The programme will not use the normal way of workings where it will go through government officials. We have to come out from this economic crisis that we have put ourselves into by relying on oil revenues thereby leaving other sectors not to thrive. The shortfall in forex we have is due to focus on export from crude oil; we should not be a consuming nation but a producing one.”