Investment of around $2 billion is required for the revival of Nigeria’s Lagos-Kano rail line for it it to boost much needed local and international trade along its northern and southern zones, Yemi Osinbajo, the country’s vice president, told an economic summit in Lagos on Wednesday.
Osinbajo, who spoke at the opening of the inaugural edition of the Lagos-Kano Economic and Investment Summit in Epe, Lagos, said the federal government in partnership with a private firm, General Electric (GE) is already proposing to invest in the project to enhance the movement of cargo from Apapa ports to Kano via the rail line.
He commended the two states for holding the economic summit as he expressed optimism that such initiatives would open up the investment opportunities that abound in both states to would-be investors both locally and internationally.
Osinbajo said: “I believe that Lagos and Kano States have by this collaboration underscored the cornerstone of the federal government’s economic recovery and growth plan, namely the leveraging of synergies among States and between government and the private sector.
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“The strategic role of the federal government is, of course, to create an enabling environment for commerce beginning with the provision of infrastructure and for us, what this meant especially in the context of Lagos and Kano collaboration is the refurbishing of the narrow gauge Lagos to Kano Rail with a concession to General Electric who are proposing to invest almost $2 billion to ensure that the rail route is effective for movement of cargo from Apapa port to Kano.
“Similarly, we are investing in the Lagos to Kano standard gauge line, the Lagos Ibadan portion of that is expected to be ready by the end of this year. Also, we have budgeted N80billion for the development of special economic zones in the six geo-political zones of the country,” he further explained.
Arrangements have been firmed up to establish independent power projects to specifically service printers in Somolu area and traders in Sura Market while reeling out plans by the central government on power, he said.
Akinwunmi Ambode, Lagos State governor said the decision of the state government to join the Oodua Investment Group triggered what has evolved over the last two years to become a signpost for effective partnerships between Lagos and other states.
He said with the current economic challenges facing the nation, there was no better time for states to begin to look beyond an oil-driven economy and take advantage of their comparative advantages to engender economic growth.
“We urge other states and regions to begin to leverage on their respective areas of comparative advantage by establishing partnerships towards establishing an inter-state or inter-regional commodity value chain.
“The idea of an intra and inter-regional trade and cooperation is not new to Lagos State. Over the past years, our state has collaborated with Kebbi and other states from within the western region to drive economic growth and development,” Ambode said.
He noted that the immediate aim of the strategic partnership with Kano was to produce about 80 percent of Nigeria’s agro-allied inputs such as wheat, groundnut, onions, maize, millet, sorghum, sugar cane and beef, adding that a Memorandum of Understanding would be signed by both States at the end of the Summit to demonstrate commitment to the sustainability of the partnership.
Aliko Dangote, president of Dangote Group, commended the partnership between both States, saying that Lagos has clearly demonstrated its readiness for serious investments.
Dangote said: “Lagos is more than ready for business. Our refinery, petrochemical, fertilizer and gas projects will generate N8trillion per annum for Nigeria when fully on stream.”