Evolving Industrial Zones in the North-East Geopolitical Zone (1)

Next on the schedule of the evolving industrial zones in the geopolitical zones of Nigeria is the North-East territory. Investors, please pay attention for this is a neglected but highly promising investment hotbed.

At present, agriculture dominates the economy of the north-east region; whereas in actuality industry should have the upper hand considering the huge industrial potentials that nature has conferred in the territory. Farmers in the area produce millet, sorghum, corn (maize), yams, rice, cassava (manioc), tomatoes, and vegetables. Some of these crops provide food for the teeming populace and some others potentially should provide raw materials for industry.

Cotton weaving and dyeing, tanning, and blacksmithing are traditional industrial activities. The medium and large industries at the moment focus on meat-products processing and canning, peanut processing, vegetable-oil milling, and cotton ginning. Until recently, there used to be notable Gum Arabic agro-industrial activities in Borno state, but the industry has been adversely affected by terrorist insurgencies in the area.

Bauchi is one of the main cotton-producing states in the north-east geopolitical zone. Coffee and peanuts (groundnuts) are the chief cash crops produced in the area while Cattle, goats, and sheep are the animals that are raised. From the mid-1970s irrigation schemes have greatly increased crop production and alluvial tin and columbite mining provide minerals for export. Coal, limestone, iron ore, antimony, and marble are other abundant mineral resources that are found in the area. Cotton weaving and dyeing, tanning, and blacksmithing comprise the local craft/ traditional small-scale activities. The region’s dominant medium-scale industries include meat-products processing and canning, peanut processing, vegetable-oil milling, and cotton ginning.

There is an assembly plant for commercial vehicles and trucks and a cement factory in Bauchi town. Unfortunately, the industry is currently nearly crippled. The vehicle plants are off and on owing to lack of political will and other problems pertaining to power and foreign exchange needed to import spare-parts. Bauchi is also an important collecting and shipping centre on the railway from Maiduguri to Kafanchan and a major road hub in the state. The Yankari National Park (game reserve) and the hot spring at Wikki are major tourist attractions.

Maiduguri is the principal trading hub for north-eastern Nigeria. Its economy is largely based on services and trade with a small share of manufacturing. The city has an appealing layout with wide, well-maintained streets, sidewalks and flood management ditches. Electricity is provided by grid connections, solar power and until recently by generators. Maiduguri is also notably the third most expensive city for buying and renting property, after Abuja and Lagos; thriving however, very well, in haulage business

At the edge of the city, there are never-ending lines of Lorries, spending days waiting to take their cargoes to Dikwa and beyond to neighbouring Cameroon. Transport of goods to land-locked countries such as Chad, Central African Republic and Sudan has nevertheless suffered due to road ambushes by Boko Haram terrorists. Rural-urban migration to Maiduguri, combined with migration from Chad, Niger and Cameroon, has led to increases in poverty and unemployment. Firewood gathering is a source of income for local residents who have been displaced by violence and the harvest shortfalls resulting from climate change. Members of Maiduguri’s official Association of Firewood Sellers are presently providing labor for tree replanting efforts.

Taraba State, one of the north-east states is a state with unique investment potentials. The state has with total land area: 56,282 Km2 has 16 LGAs. Major crops include: Millet, Sorghum, Tea, Coffee, Maize, Cassava, Groundnut, Rice, Yam, Gum Arabic, Sugarcane and Cotton. Solid minerals comprise: Baryte, Diamond, Talc, Agates, Amethyst-Quatz, Barite, Cassitterite, Calcite, Bentolitic Clay, Bauxite, Galena, Gold, Flourite, Graphite, Quartz, Rutile, Uranium, Topaz, Sapphire, Zircon, and Zinc Ore. They are potential sources of the scarce FOREX – all begging to be tapped!

Opportunities for investment exist extensively in: Agribusiness, Light Manufacturing, Healthcare, Tourism, Energy, and Mining. Taraba which is nicknamed “Nature’s Gift to the Nation’’ is a preferred destination point for investors. Its potentials and attractiveness derive from the fact that Taraba state has the highest number of attractive mountains and hills in Nigeria. Some of them include The Mambilla Plateau, Chappal Waddi which is the highest, and Lugadorena Hill among others. No wonder it’s called the Nature’s Gift to the Nation. Not surprising therefore, Taraba is one of the best places in Nigeria to start a tourism and hotel business considering its huge tourism potentials ranging from hills to mountains and other attractive centres. Indeed, Tourism is now being given special strategic attention in the state. Hence, private investors are taking advantage of the tourism scenes by running travels and tours business but there is still a yawning gap for more organized business opportunities in this area.

Apart from sharing borders with other neighbouring states, Taraba also shares international borders with Cameroon. While farming is the major occupation, there are several business opportunities in Taraba state that Nigerians and foreign investors can explore with small or huge capital. The Coffee and tea farming in Taraba are especially and urgently calling for investment upgrade from small-scale farming to commercial agriculture and to industry. Running coffee and tea plantations and connected manufacturing concerns can therefore be recommended because the state’s climatic condition is favourable for produce that could provide raw materials for industries targeted to the local and export markets. Maiduguri used to have the largest cattle market in the whole of West Africa; hence the federal and state governments could see wherein lies potential internally generated non-oil revenues lying fallow, begging to be resuscitated.

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