How Niger is spurring industrialisation with Hydropolis FTZ | Dailytrust

How Niger is spurring industrialisation with Hydropolis FTZ

The vast land of Niger State in North Central Nigeria is aiding the state’s drive towards industrialisation.

A new industrial hub is springing up in the state as the Hydropolis Free Zone Development Company (HFZDC), Amfani, breaks the ground for an industrial park.

Nigeria is made-up of 923,769 km2 with a World Bank 2019 report of an estimated 200 million population. Niger State covers approximately 86,000km2, which is about 10 per cent of the total land area of Nigeria, and about 85 per cent of the land is arable. 

The state, according to reports, possesses fertile land, favourable climate, rich annual rainfall and availability of a wide variety of minerals and agricultural resources. Some natural and mineral resources found in the state are talc, gold, Bali clay, silica sand, marble, copper, iron, felsper, lead, Kaolin, cassiterite, columbite, mica, quartzite and limestone.

Niger is also called the power hub of Nigeria as it has three hydropower stations at Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro, while two new ones at Zungeru and Gurara are being constructed.

HFZDC is an initiative of Hydropolis Investments Limited (HIL), a special purpose vehicle created by Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited (MESL). MESL is the operator of the Kainji and Jebba hydropower plants, generating about 922 megawatts (MW) of the national grid energy.

On the Eastern bank of the Kainji Lake on the River Niger lies about 2,000 hectares acquired in partnership with the Niger State Government to create an enabling environment for manufacturing, real estate, tourism, mining, education, health, airport and smart infrastructure and facilities that will ensure the success of the project.

According to HIL, the promoter, the Hydropolis free zone is the first of its kind in Nigeria and is being supported by the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).

Daily Trust on Sunday was at the site last weekend when a former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, and Col Sani Bello (Rtd), the Chairman Board of Trustees (BoT) of MESL, toured the park. An official said what was unique about the zone was that electricity would be constantly delivered from the nearby Kainji hydropower plant.

He said a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) had already been signed with MESL to supply about 100MW of uninterrupted electricity to the HFZDC. 

The official explained that, “It is a project to be implemented in accordance with the fourth industrial revolution concept, machine-to-machine business, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 9.”

 

The free zone which is already registered and certified by the federal government will have an industrial park, smart city, airport, university, mining area, medical city, agro-allied business area, tourism and hospitality.

Our reporter observed that designation has been made by the promoter of Hydropolis Mining Nigeria Limited (HMNL) incorporated in 2019 and the Kainji Aquaculture Resource Limited (KARL) on another section of the dam’s bank dedicated to fishery. 

Hydropolis’ Project Coordinator, Dr Abdulmalik Ndagi, noted that the journey to having the free zone began when the idea was conceived in 2015 and was registered in 2016 after the site identification and selection. The land was acquired from the Niger State Government in 2017 with the completion of pre-feasibility study and concept master plan in 2018.

By 2019, HIL awarded contract for the engineering design and registration of Hydropolis Free Zone (HFZ). Last year, the company said it had completed the construction of the access road, commenced internal road network, power line and the gate.

An official said 300 hectares had been dedicated for manufacturing/industries, while another 200 hectares was for residential buildings. 

Records from the investment company show that 150 hectares is for the proposed university and medical centre; 50 hectares for tourism and hospitality services; 100 hectares for golf, polo and sports arena; while 100 hectares is for different types of enterprises.

As HIL drives investors to the zone, the investment arm of the power firms’ operator – MESL, stated that strikes and lockouts by industry employees were prohibited in the area for the first 10 years of operation to give comfort to investors of the various industries.

Potential industries also have permission to sell 100 per cent of manufactured, assembled or imported goods into the domestic Nigerian market based on the value of raw materials or components used. The investors are also guaranteed 100 per cent foreign ownership of investment and repatriation of profits and dividends with complete tax exemption from all federal, state and local government taxes, rates, custom duties and levies within the zone.

To also drive the federal government’s ease-of-doing business, Dr Ndagi said the zone was a one-stop approval point for all permits, operating licences and incorporation papers and that it has duty-free, tax-free import of raw materials and components for goods destined for re-export, as well as duty-free on capital goods, machinery, raw materials, among others.

Daily Trust on Sunday also spoke to residents of Sabon Gari-Amfani – which is where the residents of the free zone in Amfani – have been resettled. From shanties and huts, the resettlement now has mapped streets, houses, a healthcare facility, constant electricity, potable water and an access road leading to Nasarawa and New Bussa towns.

Malam Musa Nasiru, a resident, said selecting Amfani as the industrial zone site had brought blessing to his community. 

Mal Nasiru said, “We never dreamt of having better infrastructure; some of our people have also been trained on entrepreneurship and we believe more job opportunities will come to us when the companies begin to work.”

Umar Lawal, another resident, said he was glad that Hydropolis duly compensated residents for the land and economic trees beyond the resettlement and infrastructure they had provided. 

Lawal said, “We are farmers and herders, and part of our land was taken, but we have duly been compensated and we now have amenities that we would never have had.”

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