Industrial Zones that are evolving in the North-Central Geopolitical Zone (1)

The North-Central or Middle-belt Zone comprises Niger, Plateau, Kwara, Benue, Nassarawa and Kogi states; together with the Federal Capital Territory.  This zone, like many other zones of Nigeria constitute a veritable hub of emerging industrial activities in Nigeria.

The vast land of Niger State in North Central Nigeria is aiding the state’s drive towards extensive agriculture that will soon – in the foreseeable future – shift gear from peasantry to mechanization, dovetailing into industrialization.

Niger State covers approximately 86,000km2, out of Nigeria’s 923,769 km2, which amazingly is about 10 per cent of the total land area of Nigeria. Incredibly too, about 85 per cent of the land is arable! What a potential! Yes indeed, the state possesses not only tremendous expanse of fertile land for developing vast agricultural resources but also favourable climate, rich annual rainfall for the formation of a wide variety of minerals. Some of the notable agricultural resources found in the state include fruits, grains and cattle while mineral resources are talc, gold, Bali clay, silica sand, marble, copper, iron, feldspar, 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.

Quite uniquely, an industrial hub is evolving in the area. Hydropolis Free Zone Development Company (HFZDC) is an initiative of Hydropolis Investments Limited (HIL), a special purpose vehicle created by Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited (MESL). MESL is currently the operator of the Kainji and Jebba hydropower plants, generating about 922 megawatts (MW) of the national grid energy. Hydropolis is thus a notable enterprise that is gradually nurturing the evolving industrial hub in the region. The successful creation of the HFZDC industrial park in recent times is a sign of what is to come. The HFZDC industrial park can be found on the Eastern bank of the Kainji Lake by the River Niger, and sits on about 2,000 hectares of land acquired in partnership with the Niger State Government, as part of the joint efforts to create an enabling environment for investments. Target sectors that are welcome to the site include manufacturing, real estate, tourism, mining, education, health, airport; in addition to any supplementary smart infrastructural facilities that will support enterprises generally.

The Hydropolis free zone (somewhat a private-public enterprise) is the first of its kind in Nigeria and is being supported by both the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC). The free zone which is already registered and certified by the federal government will in addition to having an industrial park, harbor a smart city, airport, university, mining area, medical centre, agro-allied business processing area, tourism and hospitality facilities.

Plateau State is next to Niger State, in terms of huge vast arable land area and enterprise; with total land area measuring 27,147 Km2, which sprawls across the mountainous part of the tropical Savannah zone. Plateau State has its capital in Jos, with 17 LGAs. Major staple crops that respond favourably to the cool weather conditions are Potatoes, Maize, Guinea Corn, Cassava, Yam, Grain, Cow Peas, Rice, and such fruits that typically thrive well in temperate climatic conditions, as Apple, Cabbage, Carrot, Cucumber, Mango, Tomatoes, Onion, Straw Berries; as well as Vegetables and Ornamental Crops and Flowers.

A number of cottage industries are gradually springing up to process some of the crops harvested in this territory.

Highland bottling industries have made bold entry into the bottling of the unique natural spring-water resources in the area while NASCO Food industry has been there for a long time, processing the abundant maize crops into cereal products.

There are also huge deposits of Solid Minerals in Plateau State. Some of these include: Tin, Columbite, Lead, Coal, Clay, Kaolin, Marble, Gemstone, Barytes and Zinc. Of all these solid minerals, Gemstone mining and polishing as an enterprise holds the greatest attraction and promise in the current dispensation.

Main Investment Opportunities existing and coming up in this growing hub are focused on: Tourism, Agribusiness, Light Manufacturing, Healthcare, Mining,

While it is true that business needs a secure environment, the assumption about the insecurity in Plateau state and investments is not completely true. From 2016 to 2021, Kaduna state with the more challenging security environment attracted about $2.6 billion Local and Foreign investment into the state. If investments can pour into Kaduna state in spite of the fact that the state is daily in the news for the wrong reasons, it implies that Plateau state with more clement weather and unique resources including plateau highlands and spring water resources, needs to prepare to engage differently.

Kwara State has a total land area of 35,705Km2 with 16 LGAs and capital located in Ilorin.

Major crops are: Rice, Cotton, Cocoa, Tomato, Sugarcane, Millet, Cassava, Soya Bean, Maize, Beniseed, Palm Produce and Ginger. Solid minerals are: Quartz, Limestone, Marble, Feldspar, Clay, Kaolin, Granite Rocks, Silica Sand and Dolomite.

Main Investment Opportunities are in the areas of: Agribusiness, Manufacturing, Tourism, and Mining

Benue State with total land area of 30,800 Km2, and 23 LGAs has its capital located at Makurdi. It is referred to as the ‘food basket of the nation’ because of the wide variety of agricultural crops that thrive in the area. The major crops grown in the area are: Yams, Rice, Beans, Cassava, Potatoes, Maize, Soya Beans, Sorghum, Millet, Cocoyam, Sesame, Melon, Groundnut, Tomato, etc. There are three remarkable agricultural zones in Benue state. Northern Zone comprises Buruku, Makurdi, Gwer-West, Gboko, Guma, Gwer East and Tarka Local Government Areas. Central Zone comprises of Ado, Obi, Agatu, Apa, Ogbadibo; while the Southern Zone comprises Ohimini, Okpokwu, Oju and Otukpo Local Government Areas.

Apart from the pot-bellied food basket, solid minerals found in the area are also massive; they include: Kaolin, Limestone, Barytes, Gemstone, Gypsum, Feldspar, Wolframite.

Hence, investment opportunities continue to exist in: Agribusiness, Light Manufacturing, Healthcare, Tourism, Energy, and Mining. The state is beckoning to prospective investors, with massive incentive offerings.

Nasarawa is a state that parades perhaps the hugest array of solid minerals in Nigeria, which include: Amethyst (Topaz Garnet), Barite, Barite, Cassirite, Chalcopyrite, Clay, Columbite, Coking Coal, Dolomite/Marble, Feldspar, Galena, Iron-ore, Limestone, Mica, Salt, Sapphire, Talc, Tantalite, Tourmaline Quartz & Zireon.

Cattle-rearing is rapidly increasing in the area because of its nearness to Rivers Niger and Benue. Interestingly too, cities like Lafia (its capital), and Keffi are emerging as industrial destination heavens for investors; moreso as Nyanya and Karu by virtue of their nearness to the Federal Capital Territory where the enabling environment is relatively friendlier compared to other parts of the country.

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