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How Nigeria’s abandoned industrial hub could transform the economy

by Victor Adetimilehin

The Idu industrial hub in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, was once a promising site for industrial development and job creation. But years of neglect and poor infrastructure have left it in a state of decay, with many factories and offices closed or abandoned.

The hub’s potential and challenges

The hub, which covers an area of 12.62 square kilometers, was designed to attract industrial clusters in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, engineering, food processing, and construction. It also hosts the Abuja train terminal, the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, and the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development.

However, the hub has failed to live up to its potential, as it faces challenges such as bad roads, poor electricity supply, security concerns, and lack of incentives. According to BusinessDay, at least 10 sites are empty and many buildings are dilapidated and overtaken by weeds. Some of the companies that used to operate there have relocated or shut down their operations.

The hub’s decline has also affected the economic prospects of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which is seeking to increase its annual revenue from N200 billion to over N750 billion. The FCT Administration has highlighted the need for more investments and industrialisation to boost its income and reduce its dependence on federal allocations.

Other stalled industrial projects in Abuja

The Idu industrial hub is not the only industrial project in Abuja that has suffered from slow progress or stagnation. Two designated special economic zones, the Abuja Technology Village and the Centenary City, have also failed to develop for over a decade since their establishment.

The Abuja Technology Village was conceived in 2009 as a smart city for technology research, incubation, development and commercialisation across four focus sectors: agric/biotechnology, information and communications technology, energy technology and minerals technology. The project was expected to create jobs, generate wealth, and reduce Nigeria’s economic dependence on hydrocarbons.

However, the zone has remained underdeveloped and is being overtaken by weeds, offering a grazing site for animals. According to IASP, a global network of science parks and innovation districts, the project has not been updated since 2017.

The Centenary City was approved in 2014 as a free trade zone that would emulate the models of Dubai, Monaco and Singapore. The city was to be built on 1,260 hectares of land near the international airport and feature world-class urban infrastructure, leisure and entertainment facilities, a financial center, a museum and cultural center, an international convention center, an 18-hole golf course, a polo and country club, a safari park, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and residential districts.

The project was projected to attract foreign direct investments worth over $18 billion and create direct 250,000 jobs. However, the project has been marred by legal and political controversies over land acquisition, registration and constitution of the board of trustees. As of August 2018, construction work had not commenced on the site.

The way forward

Despite these setbacks, there is still hope that these industrial projects can be revived and completed with the right policies and interventions from the government and the private sector. Some experts have suggested that the government should provide incentives such as tax breaks, subsidies, infrastructure development, security guarantees, and regulatory reforms to attract more investors and industrialists to these zones.

They have also called for more transparency and accountability in the management of these projects and the resolution of any outstanding issues that may hinder their development. They have also urged the government to collaborate with relevant stakeholders such as local communities, professional bodies, civil society groups, and development partners to ensure that these projects are sustainable and beneficial to all parties involved.

If these measures are taken seriously and implemented effectively, these industrial projects could transform Abuja into a hub of innovation and production that would boost the economy, create jobs, generate income, and improve the quality of life for millions of Nigerians.

Source: BusinessDay

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