On October 24, Nigeria in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) officially launched a Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) programme.
Located in rural areas of eight states and fully supported by digital and logistical infrastructure, the SAPZs aim to enable agribusiness and agro-industrial companies to establish themselves there, in order to develop value chains for certain crops deemed strategic: corn , cassava, rice, soybeans, cocoa, poultry and livestock products.
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End mass unemployment
These SAZPs are jointly financed by the AfDB to the tune of 210 million dollars, the Islamic Development Bank (BID), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – the latter two together provide 310 million dollars – as well as the Nigerian government, which injects 18.05 million dollars.
This should create millions of “quality” jobs, especially for young people and women.
AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina explains that this project “will place businesses close to farmers in production basins, support processing and value addition, reduce food losses, allow the expansion of budget and the emergence of highly competitive food and agricultural value chains. And as specified by the statement of the pan-African institution, all this should create millions of “quality” jobs, especially for young people and women.
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It should be noted that, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria is home to more than 70 million young people of working age, of whom more than 54% are unemployed. Moreover, according to World Bank data, agriculture, which accounts for 25% of the country’s GDP, is the country’s main employer, with 35% of the working population dedicated to it. However, so far it has been so-called “subsistence” agriculture, with 90% of agricultural products exported in their raw state.
Develop an independent economy from oil
While the country’s trade balance is in deficit (-€24,167.7 million in 2021 according to the World Bank) and food insecurity persists, agricultural transformation seems to be the most sustainable path to development. In addition, and as IDB President Muhammad Al Jasser insisted, the SAPZ program will, among other things, “reduce imported inflation in the price of foodstuffs”. As a reminder, in 2022, according to the national statistics office, the general increase in food prices in Nigeria was 23.34%. Its highest level for seventeen years.
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For his part, the Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, hailed the innovative nature of the program and said, “The SAPZ program will help Nigeria develop an oil-independent economy. This program breaks with the classic projects that we know. In fact, Nigeria, which recently became the continent’s second largest oil producer, dethroned by Angola, is struggling to diversify its economy. As indicated to Young Africa Daniel Adeniyi Sodimu, economic analyst specializing in sub-Saharan Africa at FrontierView, “it is essential to diversify exports away from oil and other raw materials whose world prices are volatile”.