By Salihu Tanko Yakasai
Since his assumption of the mantle of governorship of the most populous State in the Federation, His Excellency, the Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR has been preoccupied with the herculean task of evolving strong and enduring institutions towards making the State viable, sustainable and self-reliant. According to him, strong and enduring institutions are more important than a strong leadership because the latter is ephemeral and transient and when a strong leader is no more in the saddle of leadership everything crumbles as the world has witnessed many a time.
That is why since 29th May, 2015 when His Excellency was sworn-in as the Governor of Kano State, his administration has been initiating people-centred policies, implementing programmes and undertaking reforms all in an effort to bring about rapid and sustainable progress in the State through capital and human development for strong and enduring institutions to evolve and take firm roots.
One of these laudable policies is aimed at making Kano State attractive to both local and foreign investors because the State has mineral/natural resources, vast fertile land and a huge population. In fact, the State Government has evolved an investor-friendly policy framework as land is given free of all encumbrances to serious investors in addition to tax holiday and export production zone to serve as other inceptives. What the State lacks is enough capital to transform these huge natural and human resources to economic value for the overall development of the State.
As taking loans is not a viable option, the Ganduje administration has switched its attention towards wooing investment from within and outside the country. Foreign direct investment is very important because it pools resources for setting up various businesses in the host country or State thereby creating jobs, generating revenue and transferring managerial skills/technology. But before a country or State attracts investment, there should be an enabling environment for investors to commit their valuable resources to any business undertaking. This is because foreign direct investment can lead to economic development, and economic growth serves as one of the magnets to foreign investors.
These investment determinants include availability of good infrastructures like electricity, roads, etc, absence of risks like economic and political instability, openness of the host’s economy, institutional environment like absence of bribery and corruption, ease of doing business, fiscal, financial, tax and land inceptives, a vibrant judiciary to protect private property and good return on investment, among other considerations.
Having realized this, the present administration has undertaken the task of creating the enabling environment for capital inflows into the State like the establishment of the Kano State Investment Promotion Agency (KANINVEST) under the chairmanship of a renowned industrialist, Alhaji Isyaku Umar Tofa, execution of infrastructural projects, land reforms through the creation of the Kano State Bureau of Land Management to check bottlenecks in land administration, strengthening of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, reforming the tax system via the Kano State Internal Revenue Service to replace the defunct Kano State Board of Internal Revenue and strengthening the Kano State Due Process Bureau to ensure transparency and accountability in the award of contracts, among other undertakings.
All these, have manifested into the upward review of Nigeria’s global ranking in the ease of doing business index as released by the World Bank in its 2018 report which indicated that Nigeria had moved up 24 points from 169th position on the 2017 ranking to 145 in this year’s ranking. President Muhammadu Buhari specifically thanked Kano and Lagos for this success.
The administration has also done a lot to ensure a peaceful society through active collaboration with the various security agencies operating in the State. With this unceasing logistical, financial and material assistance to the security agencies, the State has been ridden of the nefarious activities of kidnappers, armed robbers and cattle rustlers especially in the Falgore forest. Also, in the last two years, the State has enjoyed peaceful and harmonious co-existence among the diverse people devoid of any religious cum-communal crises unlike in many other States in the federation.
To be candid, these efforts on the part of the government has started paying up judging by the number of numerous willing and serious investors from within and outside the country that have indicated interest to invest their much-needed capital by setting up service and manufacturing industries in the State.
As at July, 2017, over 30 local and foreign investors from China, Spain, Canada, Italy, USA, Brazil, The Netherlands, India, England and Dubai have expressed serious readiness to set up various businesses in the State such as solar-power plants, tricycle assembly plants, leather works, city bus mass transit, organic fish fertilizer plant, 5-star hotel, modern waste processing plant, modular hospital, housing estate, modern abattoir, textile factory, private university, modern markets and above all the ambitious $1.8 billion electric metro light rail for which the provisional contract has been awarded to EEC-China Incorporated while awaiting the approval of the Federal Government for the project to take off in earnest.
In addition, some reputable local corporate bodies that have demonstrated interest to invest in Kano State include Dangote Group by undertaking a 100 megawatt solar power project worth $100-$120 million within 18 months, Brains and Hammers that will invest N168 billion in the construction of ultra-modern Kano Economic City, which work has already commenced & President Buhari is expected to lay the foundation when he visits Kano, All In One Global Concept Ltd that will invest N9 billion in the provision of a commercial parking area at Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi Market, Sabon Gari and MRB Nigeria Ltd that will commit N1 billion to the construction of 1,000-unit housing estate, among a host of others.
Already, a number of memoranda had been signed between the State Government and these investors specifying the commitments of each of the two parties for the successful take-off of these ventures for their mutual benefits. In fact, upon the fruition of these investments running into billions of US dollars, the socio-economic landscape of Kano State would be monumentally transformed thanks to the foresight and initiatives of His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR.
His Excellency has also undertaken foreign trips to various countries in an effort to woo investors to the State. For example, between 19th and 26th September, 2017, the amiable and far-sighted governor led a high-powered 12-man delegation to the Peoples Republic of China to attend the 2017 Hunan-Africa Local Industrial Cooperation Conference held in Changsha on the invitation of the Vice Governor of Hunan Province, China during his earlier visit to Nigeria last April. During the China trip, the State delegation met with potential investors that indicated willingness to invest in the State and various memoranda were signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Alhaji on behalf of Kano State Government and the investing entities. For instance, the Lee Group agreed to invest in rice and sugarcane production, the Ruyi Textile Group, one of the biggest textile factories in the world, will establish a $600 million textile industrial park in the State while the INSPUR signed a memorandum of Understanding with the State Government on cooperation in the development of intelligent grain cloud/taxation cloud/security cloud/cloud data centre/digital cloud and advanced IT personnel training in the State. Kano State has also entered into a bilateral agreement between the State and Shandong Province in China during the trip.
Also, INSPUR will continue talks with Kano State University of Science and Technology (KUST), Wudil in the area of research, training and procurement of super computers and software to enhance the safe city security initiative.
Additionally, the Governor was also at the headquarters of Islamic Development Bank in Jiddah where he held a meeting with the Vice President of the Bank Mr Mansur Mukhtar and his management team over a $200 Million for Agricultural and Water Resources Development Projects in the state, which Kano is expected to begin receiving the funds from January 2018.
Other foreign fruitful and highly-rewarding foreign trips undertaken by the State delegation led by His Excellency in the last two years were to The Netherlands, USA and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to mention a few due to space constraints all in an effort to source for capital for the State.
Conclusively, as there is direct linkage between investment (whether from local or foreign sources) and economic growth, the Ganduje administration has been making consistent and deliberate efforts to make Kano State a safe haven for investors through various policies and programmes in order to develop the full potentials of the most populous State in the federation. Economic growth and development are solidly hinged on the utilization of land, labour and capital and since Kano State lacks especially the much-needed capital to spur economic activities, it has to look inward and outward for investment and doing so requires taking some concrete and specific measures to attract and retain both local and foreign investment. Many infrastructures have been undertaken with some completed and ready for commissioning very soon while others are on-going like the Challawa-Gorge and Tiga independent power projects as well as embarking on institutional and governance reforms to make the State magnetic to investors for job creation, revenue generation and development of the local industrial base through skills/technology transfer.
Salihu Tanko Yakasai is the Director General, Media and Communications to the Governor of Kano.