ByÂ Sule Ya’uÂ Sule
KANO State is beginning to reap the fruits of the modernisation agenda being pursued meticulously by the Malam Ibrahim Shekarau Administration.Â At two different fora this past month, foreign and local investors, as well as financially able Nigerian professionals in the Diaspora, had cause to take a closer and informed look at the quickening pace of infrastructural development in Kano State. Their verdict? The Shekarau Administration is pursuing the right development agenda which in due course would completely transform the socio-economic landscape of the state.
Investors are not famous for cheer leading investment road shows if they cannot invest their money where their heartÂ is. The Middle Eastern investors who gathered to listen to His Excellencyâ€™s presentation onÂ the benefits of investing in Kano at the recently concluded Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, knew they would be in good company given the tradition of hospitality, deep cultural heritage, population and infrastructural amenities which the state government is putting in place presently.
The Federal Government invited Malam, alongside seven other State Governors deemed to have achieved recorded indisputable milestones in infrastructuralÂ developments in their domain, to showcase the investment potentials of their state during the â€œStating the Case for Investing in Nigeriaâ€ Forum at the Millennium Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Led by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian delegation put up a superlative presentation sufficient to convince investors that Nigeria is a lucrative investment destination and for several reasons.
Take Kano state for example. The Shekarau Administration is pursuing an aggressive programme of transforming the state from a commercial centre to the economic hub of Africa. The private sector driven, all-purpose Kanawa Trade Centre, a brainchild of the Shekarau Government, not only signposts a growing confidence on the stateâ€™s economic potentials by the Nigerian business community butÂ has emergedÂ the largest single vote cast in support ofÂ the Administrationâ€™s commitment to improve the climate and infrastructures of doing business in the state.
The Kanawa Trade Centre, planned as Africaâ€™s biggest commercial project, is the cornerstone of the larger Kano Economic City designed to create a trade, tourism and business hub which will redefine the way business is done in Africa. The Kanawa Business Centre, on completion, will have 15,000 retail shops, a World Trade Centre with twin 20 storey towers, 78 warehouses of various dimensions, space for 7000 cars, a five star hotel with modern conference facilities, restaurants, trailer parks and amusement parks.
To further boost business in the tourism and hospitality sector in Nigeriaâ€™s most populated state, State Government has leased the Magwan Hotel and Restaurant complex to Protea Hotels to develop and administer.Â An Arab investor has committed about N6billion into developing another five-star hotel in Kofar Nasarawa, just besides the ICT Park.
A study commissioned by the State Government in conjunction with some development partners on the potentials and problems of industrialisation in Kano State showed that although 58 per cent of industries in the state have survived, 80 per centÂ of their problem is lack of electricity.
In response, the State Government is initiating a credit facility with Chinaâ€™s NEXIM Bank to finance a 125MW Independent Power Project. When completed, Kano will enter a new phase of business and economic life that will be sustainable and highly profitable for investors.
At the Abu Dhabi Investorsâ€™ Forum, Malam gave a summary of the agenda he is pursuing in repositioning Kanoâ€™s business and investment climate. The Administration is reconstructing Kanoâ€™s industrial estates and provisioning them with good road networks, water and security. The processes of land transaction and mortgage finance have been relaxed and local industrialists are receiving assistance from Government to access cheaper funds.
Urban and socio-economic infrastructures are getting the desired uplift. This year, the Shekarau Government is committing N16billion to the reconstruction, expansion and upgrading of 15 major roads and other major economic crossroadsÂ with the Kano Central Business District under its Roadmap Program for Economic Development. The popular economic arteries â€“ Zoo Road to Shagari Quarters Road; Gidan Murtala to Kofar Kabuga [BUK Road]; Club Road; Bello Road; Niger Street; Post Office Road; Bank Road; Civic Centre Road; Lagos Street; Airport Road and Murtala Mohammed Way, are all being expanded into six lanes with gutters, pedestrian way and bus stops.
The challenge of providing the Kano population with portable water has been accepted with the commissioning of the 150million litres per day Tamburawa, the reactivation of the 200million litres per day Challawa Water Scheme and the 75million litres per day Watari Regional water Scheme which was done alongside the expansion of the five modular regional water treatment plants.
The State Government is also wisely investing the $30million it will receive from Pfizer, in settlement of the TROVAN Drug trial deaths. Following the recommendations of its panel of experts, Government is devoting the money solely towards tackling critical areas of healthcare delivery in the state to complement its own laudable interventions.
Mr. Sule, a public affairs commentator, writes from Kano.