AfDB set to begin disbursement of $540m SAPZs fund 

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is set to commence the disbursement of $540 million to the first phase of the development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) in the country.

Senior Special Adviser to the President of AfDB on Industrialization, Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, said this Monday when a delegation of the bank and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) presented separate reports on the status of projects being executed in Nigeria to Vice President Kashim Shettima at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

He said three states are to benefit from the first phase programme including Oyo, Kaduna and Cross River.

He said funds would be disbursed to other states as soon as they are through with the documentation process.

“The Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) is an initiative of the African Development Bank that is aimed at turning the rural landscape into economic zones of prosperity and harnessing the power of commercial agriculture and food.

“The primary objective is to support inclusive and sustainable agro-industrial development in Nigeria. The phase one of the project is at the point of disbursement. Kaduna, Oyo and Cross River States are all in the process of receiving disbursements and we hope for the other states, they can speed up with their documentation so that we can fast-track these states.

“We raised $540,000,000 in catalytic funding and we expect every state to find a partner that will bring equity and join up with them. It is a government-enabled project but private-sector driven,” he said.

He said the first phase of SAPZs is being implemented in seven states, namely Cross River, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Ogun, Oyo, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“Ogun state found a partner for the project and decided not to take the loan. We are basically going to distribute the loan to the other states. The next thing is preparation for phase two with 27 states. The demand is enormous but we have to prioritise those who move fast.

“We have set up eligibility criteria for the states and to rank them. We expect them to have a feasibility report, environmental impact study and a commitment to counterpart funding,” he said.

In his response, the Vice President called for immediate action, saying all hands must be on deck to ensure that the vision of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is delivered to the Nigerian people.

“We have passed the age of talking; we have to walk the talk. We can talk from now till eternity and it does not mean anything if there is no action and hence we must make this work. We just must,” he said.