Industrial Zones that are evolving in the North-Central Geopolitical Zone (2)

Kogi State (also called the Confluence State because of its being bracketed by the Niger and Benue Rivers) is a formidable evolving industrial territory in the North Central Geopolitical zone under review. It has a landmass of 27,747 Km2, with 21 LGAs and its capital in Lokoja. Major crops are: Cassava, Rice, Cashew, Coffee, Cocoa, Palm Oil, Groundnuts, Maize, Yam and Melon. Solide minerals are: Limestone, Iron Ore, Marble and Gemstone.

There are four agricultural zones in Kogi state namely Aiyetoro-Gbede, Anyigba, Koton-karfe and Alloma. Generally, opportunities for investment exist in: Agribusiness, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Tourism, and Mining

The Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi State of Nigeria was envisaged to serve as the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization. The idea of having a steel industry was conceived in 1958 by the federal government. Preliminary market studies were carried out and studies were initially directed towards the feasibility of establishing rolling mills. However, because of the growing awareness of the availability of iron ore in Agbaja, Udi and other areas of the country, emphasis later shifted to establishing an integrated steel plant. After extensive surveys commissioned by the Federal Government, suitable iron ore deposit was discovered by 1973, in Itakpe, Ajabanoko and Oshokoshoko all in the region around Kabba-Okene-Lokoja – Koton Karfe axis, now in Kogi State.

In 1975, during the reign of Murtala Mohammed, the preliminary project report specifying the raw materials base at Itakpe in Kogi plant site location (Ajaokuta), 1st phase production volume (1.3 mmt), process route (Blast Furnace-Basic Oxygen Furnace), Product form (Long products) submitted by TPE was reviewed, discussed and accepted. TPE was subsequently commissioned to prepare the Detailed Project Report (DPR) on Ajaokuta which was completed and submitted in 1977.

In 1979, Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL)/NIOMCO, Delta Steel Company (DSC), among others, were established under Section 2 of National Steel Council Decree No. 60 of September 19, 1979 and incorporated as Limited Liability Companies.

In 1980, former President Shehu Shagari laid the foundation stone of an integrated steel plant in Ajaokuta on 24,000 hectares of sprawling green-field landmass, built on 800-hectares. The steel company had four different types of rolling mills inside the plant, such as the Billet Mill which produces billets; the Light Section Mill which produces round, square, strip and angles metals. The Wire Rod Mill produced wire rods and rebars used in construction companies and production of nails, fencing wire, rope mesh, bolts and nut and netting and the Medium Section and Structural Mill produces parallel flange channels, equal angles, unequal angles and standard channels.

The four rolling mills were bigger than Aladja, Osogbo, Katsina and Jos rolling mills put together while the coke oven and bye products plant was bigger than all the four then functional refineries in Nigeria put together.

The coming into existence of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited was accompanied by a fiery frenzy in 1984, with high hopes that Nigeria had arrived among the comity of nations in the production of iron and steel. The enthusiasm was dashed when the project suddenly fizzled out as ‘flash in the pan’ the same wishful way it was conceived; never at all backed up by adequate political will and local technical expertise, as much of the expertise and technology, mostly, were borrowed. The rest is history.

Kogi State is one strategic state that has continually had promise for the conception of terrific industrial base but which never turned out good results as expected; its ventures have always been running and falling. The problem has always been lack of political will, lack of committed leaders and professionals with resolve to convert the truly enormous potentials into possibilities. This is a call to the private sector to come to the stage and turn around the persistent failures of the state government and hone on its inability to manage enterprises.

Take for instance, sometime in 2019, when the Kogi State Government signed a joint venture agreement with an indigenous company, Messrs Emerald Fertilizer Production and Allied Investment Limited, to resuscitate and operate the moribund state-owned Confluence Fertilizer Company located in Agbeji area of the state; ever since then, the company has been struggling to resuscitate and operate the fertilizer company. Before this Agbeji-based Fertilizer Company became moribund, it was into inorganic fertilizer production, which is a desirable brand. The new private sector-led management is hence, doing well to stay on course with the production of organic fertilizer, considered environmental friendly.

Today, the focus of industrial activity appears to be shifting more towards cement production. But yet again, the recent incident whereby the Obajana Cement was ordered to be forcefully closed by the Kogi State House of Assembly, backed by the State Governor is another case in point that Kogi State is a hot-bed of failed enterprises that need to be transferred to the private sector.  The once thriving Cement factory was purportedly sold by the then Kogi government to Dangote Cement in 2002, but the current administration questions the acquisition.

What happened recently, about a year ago (precisely on October 2022), was that the Kogi State House of Assembly ordered the shutdown of the factory operated by Dangote Cement Plc, situated at Obajana in the north-central state; saying the asset was not legitimately acquired by the firm. Chief among their grievances is the alleged failure by Dangote Cement to live up to the tenets of corporate social responsibility bordering on proper handling of environmental hazards and community related duties ranging from industrial pollution induced by factory activities to neglect of the host community, from where it is “making billions from.” The government’s action was allegedly the outcome of a petition by locals, prompting inquiry into the nature of the transaction that led to the purchase of the factory two decades ago (in 2002).

Nevertheless, the revival of cement production activities that are thought to offer a new lease to job creation in Kogi State recently received good assurances with the signing of another entirely seperate $600 million contract between a Chinese company and Mangal Industries, for the construction of a new cement production factory and a power plant. The construction which is to be handled by the Chinese company, Sinoma and expected to be ready by early 2024, will deliver a 3 million metric tons of cement per year, as well as a 50 Megawatts power plant. The factory is poised to rely on best available technology for cement production and in line with highest environmental standards.

Within the Federal Capital Territory, the Idu district is fast emerging an industrial area, largely by virtue of its being host to the Abuja Industrial Park (AIP). Idu Abuja, also known as Idu Industrial, is a developing district in Abuja located in the Phase 4 region in the Abuja Municipal Area Council, also called AMAC, which is one of the six local government areas in Abuja. Spanning a wide expanse of land, the Idu industrial layout within the heart of Abuja covers about 588 hectares of land that is demarcated into 208 commercial plots and is the government’s approved industrial cluster for the Federal Capital Territory.

Just like Abuja being in the middle of the country, Abuja Industrial Park lies directly in the heart of IDU Industrial Area located in the west of Abuja city center. This enables an easy connection to and from each point around the Capital of the country, and appropriate logistic services to the neighbor countries like Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin.

The emerging Industrial Park in the area is a fascinating complex that has a lot of attractions for any investor coming from any part of the world.

The main access to the project area is a direct link from INEX road that connects the city center with the highway. Therefore it is easy to conclude that the primary transportation utility for logistics services, road transport, will be highly efficient in AIP. Meanwhile it is also worth to mention that the main logistics advantage of Abuja Industrial Park consist of being a “hub” for all types of transportation: There will be one railway station on the national railway line directly at the northwest corner of the Park, while the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport is located not further than 2.5 km away.

The national railway grid is directly connected to Lagos which makes it easy for the investors in Abuja Industrial Park to either divert the produced goods to the port for reaching international seas, or supply raw materials from the harbor via railway. The above mentioned land, railway, sea port and air transport opportunities make Abuja Industrial Park a center of attraction for industrial logistics and deployment.

Furthermore, it will also be possible to load and unload carriages inside a private logistics facility that is going to be established solely for this purpose in Abuja Industrial Park.

ABUJA INDUSTRIAL PARK (AIP) is looking forward to welcome investors, while representing an important opportunity for worldwide companies to make industrial production for Nigeria, and from Nigeria to the hinterlands. Covering a total area of 2.440.000 m2 with 184 industrial plots, AIP not only presents an important opportunity for industrial production in Nigeria to local, regional and global companies; but it also represents a potential growth in the market share in Central and West Africa.

AIP has the capability to host both heavy industries and light industries on properly shaped and small-to-medium sized industrial parcels with high quality infrastructure. Should a need for a bigger parcel arise for heavy industry, the zoning plan of AIP can easily be revised accordingly by merging smaller parcels together to form a big plot.

Details of all the information needed for establishing an industrial, agricultural, infrastructural/ social amenity/ environmental or even commercial or mining project in FCT or any part of Nigeria, could be further researched and professionally incorporated into a comprehensive bankable feasibility report which this author would be willing to package for interested prospective investors.

Good luck to all prospective investors!

The author – Chukwudi Odili – is an experienced consultant who has worked on several public and private sector projects including those of the Federal and State Governments of Nigeria, the World Bank, USAID, UNDP, etc. He has been assisting and ever willing to continue to assist local or foreign prospective investors looking forward to exploring and investing in Nigeria.

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