Economic opportunities in Lagos-Kano Summit
Sequel to British occupation and colonization of Nigeria, Lagos and Kano cities, the largest populated cities in the country had a long history of trade, commerce and industrialization spanning countries with which they largely depend for economic survival.
Right from the dark ages of Portuguese invasion when slave trade was still in place, Lagos was well known for its business hub and trade destination in Africa, being the most flourished coastal cities where all form of aquatic transaction and commercialization exchange dominate chain of economic activity.
Long before the discovery of oil, Lagos and Kano, unarguably, have contributed immensely to the nation’s economic sustenance and diversification of development and growth, essentially from the proceeds of non-oil income.
Kano the second most populated state in Nigeria has continued to sustain the economic and commercial viability of Northern Nigeria and sub-Saharan nations. Like Lagos, Kano has concentration of ethno-religious and multiple tribes who know no place call home apart from Kano.
Kano was connected with trans-Atlantic trade in 1911 when a railway line reached Kano from the western city of Lagos to boost commerce and trade movement. Before then, Kano had already established trans-Saharan trade through road network with traders from Niger, Cameroun, Republic of Benin and Chad, to mention but few. Some of the common trade then include peanut, groundnut, animal skill (leather), textile, cotton and all sort of grains.
Against this background, every discerning mind would not be cut unawares however by the unfolding strategic economic and other investment related collaboration between Kano and Lagos, a well thought-out partnership which eventually gave birth to the recent Lagos-Kano Economic and Investment Summit; held in the historic town of Epe, Lagos.
The first ever inter-state summit with the theme: “States Partnerships as a Tool for Sustainable Economic Development”, was intended to engender a symbiotic investment opportunities and potential economic values through an exchange of ideas and share expertise more frankly, in comparative advantages. The height of economic partnership between the two states couldn’t have come any better time considering their similar traits in population, commercial and industrial activities, most germane economic indices.
The whole ideas, which was the brain child of both Governors, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state and Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos state, came out of their ingenuity and purposeful leadership to devise alternative sources of income beyond the monthly dwindling monthly Federal allocation. Mindful of the Federal government diversification of economic away from the overconcentration on oil sector, the two brains are leaving no stone unturned in broaden and harnessing non-oil sector as alternative sources of survival the huge social-economic and infrastructural demands in their states.
To demonstrate this willingness and determination to fully explore the economic potentials the summit has in stock, Governor Ganduje declared the readiness of his administration to generously offer incentives to potential investors. Part of the incentives include Land for the construction of both industry and staff quarters, Long lease on land for industrial development, Facilitates ease of doing business and Tax holiday.
In his commitment at the summit, Ganduje said, “Kano State sees this summit as a mechanism for building trust, cultivating mutually beneficial relationship and boosting economic prosperity of our people. It is apt to stress that partnership and engagement such as this is the best tool to mitigate global economic uncertainty by building stronger relationships where information flows including shared insights and extended collaboration. I must say at this juncture that stability, openness and common understanding encourage investments.
“I am optimistic that this forum will generate perspectives and best practices that will develop well-informed agenda for the economic transformation of Kano and Lagos States. In the same vein, it will showcase viable Brownfield and Greenfield investment opportunities and further develop the future prosperity of businesses and institutions of the people of Kano and Lagos”.
While showcasing the deposited natural endowment potential investors stand to benefit in Kano, Ganduje graciously emphasized that “ I am glad to report that we are blessed with abundant opportunities such as large population size which could be harnessed in functional education that relates to agriculture and other areas; large expanse of fertile cultivable land covering over 1,754,200 hectares; abundant water resources with over 58 man- made water reservoirs and natural lakes and rivers with a total surface area of 56,583 hectares sufficient for irrigation, fish production and even hydro electricity; large stock of livestock including sheep and goats; Kano’s Location, population and role in the Trans-Sahara trade contributed to its leading position as the Center of Commerce”.
Ganduje continued further “The largest single grains market in the whole of Africa, supplying industrial agro-allied raw materials and food items; large deposit of solid minerals that include Silica Sand, Gold etc. We have approximately 1.6 million Micro-Small-Medium enterprises. The city is host to over 400-500 manufacturing enterprises with leading sub-sector in leather tanning, seed processing, rice milling and animal feed production. There exist Free Trade Zone and Industrial Estates.
The people of Kano have a rich cultural heritage that provides enormous tourism and hospitality potentials with a large number of tourist sites that dates back to 7th century. We have well serviced road networks connecting directly to neighboring states of Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina, Bauchi and strategically positioned as a transport route to many African cities by road.
“Kano and Lagos were used as yardstick with which Nigeria was assessed by World Bank in the ease of doing business hence, the report for 2018 has placed Nigeria at the 145th position better than the 169th in 2017. Kano was rated high for increase in transparency by publishing all relevant regulations, fee schedules and pre-application requirements on line. Kano State has Keyed into the National Action Plan (NAP 2.0) for the 2017-2018 developed by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), whose reform cycle is designed to detail 11 key reforms in the business environment that are capable of impacting the Nigerian economy.
“This summit therefore provides a veritable platform for dialogue with public and private sector players for bringing about socio-economic development and growth in the economy through investment and enterprise, particularly in the face of the volatile nature of oil revenues and low level of internally generated revenue by most States of the federation. It has therefore become necessary for us to redefine our investment climate, align our State’s policy thrust and priorities in view of the current economic realities in the country and as well, find alternative source of financing the State’s resource gap that will address critical sectors deficit and also improve public service in a sustainable way”.
Specifically, Ganduje jostled for investors in the areas Agricultural Value Chains and Solid Minerals among other areas. He added that “In line with the state policy drive to go into partnerships and equally attract both domestic and international investors, we will be glad to partner with prospective investors, with a view to addressing the prevailing resource constraints and complement our efforts in financing some specific priority areas Infrastructure, Agricultural Value Chains, Solid Minerals, ICT, Commerce and Industry, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Tourism, Governance and Institutions”.
The Emir of Kano Malam Mohammadu Sanusi II, as former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and season economist also brought his wealth of knowledge and prowess to bear in the road map into the windows of investment opportunities open for potential investors.
Although the Emir extensively dwelled on areas of economic strengths and comparative advantage private investors can tap in Kano, the royal father however reminded that partnership between the two interested state governments can only be realistic if both Lagos and Kano resolve factors of strong political will, Institutional frame work, harmonized support for Private Sector Development, Sustained Effort to Improve Doing Business, Identification of Joint Developmental Project and Investments, Promote Made in Nigeria Products and Building relationships beyond trade.
According to the Emir, “The Benefit of Lagos-Kano summit is multifaceted. The summit is an attempt to fulfill the fundamental responsibility of any responsible government to maximize the welfare of its people through effective policy formation and efficient resource utilization”.
The Emir however challenged the Federal government to support the collaboration of both states with policy direction. He said “ the Nation urgently needs a strong import substitution policy that will encourage cluster development across areas of comparative advantages. The ongoing railway revitalization projects, especially the lines connecting `Lagos and Kano is a Federal government intervention that would go a long way in promoting trade, investment not only for the two states but across the country. We urge the government to ensure timely completion of these projects”.
In demonstration of their readiness to truly work together in realization of the set goals, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and his Lagos State counterpart entered a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work the talk.
In the MoU, the two states jointly agreed to expand the current level of economic and investment cooperation between them especially in the areas of Governance, Security, IGR, Agricultural Value Chain, Tourism, Education, Information and Communication Technology and skills development.