In this report, ANDY ASEMOTA examines the quest to turn Katsina and indeed Nigeria’s abundant resources into goldmines of foreign earnings with attendant increase in employment and social security.
Nationwide, diversification has remained the veritable vehicle to drive up growth and development in the economy of any state to prevent the future of its populace from being exposed to socio-economic quagmire.
Katsina State is not an exception as Nigeria wakes up from its slumber to fully develop and integrate the non-oil sectors to a viable and necessary alternative source of foreign exchange and employment generation among others.
However, it has taken the efforts of the present state and federal governments to really support the imperative need to diversify the ailing economy with the desirable actions. Katsina state, and indeed Nigeria have comparative advantage in agriculture and the sector has received prominent attention lately with the introduction of many micro-credit intervention windows including the anchor-borrowers programme targeted at specific agricultural products amongst which include rice cultivation.
Similarly, the solid mineral sector has witnessed some reforms designed to complement the oil sector as revenue earning industry and there is no doubt that the efforts will bear fruits sooner than expected.
Governor Aminu Bello Masari administration has decided to leave no stone unturned in revolutionizing the investment opportunities available in the state, which is endowed with abundant resources in agriculture, and solid minerals that are being profiled for export.
To underscore his enviable vision for the state, the governor has gone extra-mile to engage young technocrat, Abubakar Yusuf, as commissioner for commerce, industry and tourism and one of the team leaders to translate his (Masari) lofty dream to reality.
Since his emergence behind the wheel, the state government has established a committee that is liaising with Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank on ways to make its export facilities easily and more accessible by exporters in the state.
Yusuf noted that, “The state has established an Exploration and Mining Company in order to streamline the activities in the mining industry, in the state, for maximum utilization of abundant resources.”
Demonstrating a passion for Katsina beyond oil that Governor Masari administration envisages, Katsina Investment Promotion Agency (KIPA) was also established to ensure timely successful facilitation of investment activities in the state.
Yusuf said: “It’s therefore in this light that Katsina State Government is ready to cooperate with NEXIM Bank in order to derive the maximum benefits of their products supportive of the export drive in the state.”
He implored the management of NEXIM Bank to make the guidelines for accessing its facilities easier to be met by potential exporters, as majority of them need critical support to play the role expected of them.
In order to complement the efforts of the state government and others in the North West, NEXIM has thrown its weight behind exporters in Katsina and the remaining states with export financing windows available for both existing and intending exporters.
In its two day Exporter Enlightenment forum, under the theme: “Actualising the produce, Add value and Export Philosophy (PVAE) –Focus on the North West Region” held in Katsina State capital, the bank underscored its determination to promote non-oil export development in Nigeria. This it promised to carry out through capacity building and dissemination of pertinent trade and market information among stakeholders and key players in the export value chain.
The Managing Director of the Bank, Alhaji Abba Bello, used the opportunity to recognize and applaud the steady progress in the economy of the state under Masari’s leadership, particularly on the Agricultural Restoration Programme, which was launched by the governor to promote agricultural productivity and agro-allied industries.
“This is a laudable initiative that fits right into our policy of improving production, adding value and eventually exporting to diversify the economy,” he declared.
Bello noted: “Our gathering here today presents another opportunity for us to discuss opportunities as a country and deliberate on how Katsina State and indeed the entire North West region can optimize its economic potentials, while improving its contributions towards achieving the national development aspirations.”
LEADERSHIP Friday’s findings revealed that in promoting the PAVE initiative, the bank has introduced a State /Regional Export Development Fund (EDF), under which at least N1bn has been earmarked for every state of the federation towards developing one or two exportable commodities of interest.
So far, it has over the last two years taken steps to address the critical challenge of boosting funding intervention to the non-oil export sector, culminating in the partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria to manage the N500 billion Non-oil Export Stimulation Facility and the N50 billion Export Development Fund.
To further assured an unsteady funding intervention to huge non-oil export sector towards promoting economic diversification development of small and medium enterprises, the Federal Government’s agency recently signed one billion dollars Memorandum of Understanding with the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) in Cairo, Egypt.
Sources informed our reporter that the $1 biilion would be provided by AfreximBank and disbursed by NEXIM to support the growth of trade between Nigeria and other African countries. This will be within the context of deepening intra-African trade, with special emphasis on value addition, particularly in primary goods and commodities.
Besides, this unprecedented stride to boost access to investment capital, provide guarantee instruments and enhance support for the SMEs is critical factor towards integrating them into the formal export market.
However, for the massive intervention and continuous enlightenment programmes by the stakeholders and government in the non-oil export sector in Katsina State, a state renowned as centre of trade and gateway to trans-Sahara trade and today home of export related investment opportunities, the state stands in the vintage position to turn its abundant resources into goldmine.