By Muhammad Garba
A ray of hope is coming for Kano’s dying industries with the initiation and implementation of various policies and programmes that aimed at rebounding manufacturing entities in Kano and Northern Nigeria.
When Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State received in his office on a courtesy call the management team of the Gas Aggregation Company of Nigeria (GACN) at the Government House Kano recently, an atmosphere of hope and enthusiasm prevailed as discussions that followed leave no one in doubt that panacea to the myriads of problems challenging the sector was in the offing.
The management of that company, formed in line with statutory requirement of the Nigeria Domestic Gas Supply and Pricing Regulations 2008, was in Kano as part of preparation for business engagement forum in Kano, in July.
The move is geared at sensitising the public, business community and state government of the potential of the proposed Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The pipeline is slated to originate from Ajaokuta and pass through Abuja and Kaduna, before ending at a terminal gas station in Kano.
Certainly, Kano has been a bellweather state in Nigeria because of its leading business and commercial status. It is the second-largest industrial centre after Lagos and the largest in Northern Nigeria with textile, tanning, footwear, cosmetics, plastics, enamelware, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, furniture and other industries.
Unfortunately, over the years, most of these industries have folded up, some with the demise of the pioneer industrialists, due largely to problems related to, among other issues, unfavorable policies, epileptic power generation and economic turbulence.
Kano and Kaduna states, for instance, used to be a haven of textile industries in the country that provided employment opportunities for thousands of men and women.
The last time there was a major attempt to bail out the nose-diving textile industries was during the administration of late Umaru Musa ‘Yar ‘Adua when the sum of N100 billion was allocated to the sector, yet the problem persists.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari is now making efforts to see a swift renewal of the affluent days that pigeon-holed Sharada, Bompai, Challawa and other industrial estates in Kano. This deliberate plan is steadily coming to fruition.
I could vividly remember that during the visit, the GACN team was full of praises for Governor Ganduje for putting in place an effective Kano State AKK Committee under the chairmanship of Engr. Mu’azu Magaji, an oil and gas engineer and former Kano State commissioner for Works, Housing and Transport.
Ganduje was elated when Mr. President announced the approval for the implementation of the project knowing this will lead to increase in gas supply to all industries in Kano State and opportunities for the creation of new ones, meaning more jobs.
As part of the state goverment’s commitment to see the successful take-off of the project, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)-Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) Pipeline Project Delivery and Gas Industrialisation Committee (KNSG-PDIC) was, last week, allocated to Tamburawa, a community in Dawakin Kudu Local Government Area adjacent to Challawa Water Works, where the project’s Terminal Gas station is proposed to be built as planning location for the siting of the proposed gas industrial layout under the NNPC.
The committee also worked assiduously to ensure payment of compensation for the acquired land from owners, production of the proposed layout, liaising with the state Bureau for Land Management to come up with a final document for the new industrial layout as well as working out a plan to ensure that the project is simultaneously kick-started from both Ajaokuta and Kano end.
The decision by President Buhari to revive Kano’s sickly manufacturing industry tallies with the avowed commitment to the realisation of this objective by the Ganduje administration which aligns itself with the federal government through its massive investment in infrastructure; particularly the landmark projects that are geared towards making Kano a megacity attractive to investors and the re-industrialisation drive.
These include construction of many road networks, flyovers, underpasses, establishment of state Hydroelectric Development Company (KHEDCO) to generate power and manage the state-owned Independent Power Project (IPP) at Tiga and Challawa Dams.
The IPP project is expected to assist in supplementing the power demand in the state, particularly to small-scale industries at Sharada, Chlallawa and Bompai Industrial Estates, revival of ailing industries and setting up of new ones with a view to complementing the industrial growth and employment generation effort, as well as supply of power to street lights in the night in order to improve security situation in the state.
While the Ganduje administration is making this effort, the federal government invests massively in the revival of the Kano Free Trade Zone (KFTZ) to stimulate industrial activities as a key enabler of industrialisation, where it will be licensing, monitoring and regulating the activities of enterprises operating in the zone.
The trade zone is also aimed at overcoming the difficulties and challenges companies encounter, especially in the areas of infrastructural development, functional amenities, taxation and high cost of production or overheads associated with capital intensive ventures.
Already, the federal government had signed a 25 megawatt IPP project agreement in February to supply electricity to industries in the KFTZ. The project is scheduled to be completed within 11 months.
Therefore, the AKK gas pipeline project, which is billed to be completed in two years, will provide gas for generation of power and for gas-based industries that will facilitate the development of new industries.
The project will result in the establishment of a connecting pipeline network between different regions of the country with the aim of creating a steady and guaranteed gas supply network by utilising the country’s widely available gas resources.
In addition, the AKK natural gas pipeline is intended to boost Nigeria’s electricity generation capacity by adding 3,600MW of power to the national grid and provide electricity in the Northern part of the country with supply from the South.
These efforts will be complimented in boosting our industries with the rail projects by the Buhari administration for efficient and effective transportation of goods and services that included the 1,343 kilometres long Kano-Lagos standard gauge railway under construction.
There is also the Kano-Maradi rail project which traverses the major commercial centre of Kano and passing through other economic hubs of the country including Kazaure, Daura, Katsina Mashi and up to the border town of Jibiya and the Niger Republic city of Maradi.
The 248-kilometre rail line has been identified as a viable line that will significantly enhance the movement of passengers and freight to the hinterland, especially raw materials from both agricultural and mineral resources for our industries and will be completed in 36 months.
Another rail line by the federal government is the one linking Kano-Kaduna which will commence in July and is also billed to solve the problem of cargoes and control of the volume of human traffic in Kano.
Garba is the Commissioner for Information, Kano State.