Going by projections, about 700,000 direct jobs will be created within 10 years when the Enyimba Economic City project takes off.
This followed the endorsement of the plan by major investors at the just-concluded Africa Investment Forum (AIF) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The proposal by Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, got the nod of the African Development Bank (AfDB), private investors and other multilateral financial institutions who will invest $430 million.
The EEC is a proposed free-trade zone, with independent business registry, labour law and banking regulations, located on over 9,500 hectares of land in the oil-producing communities of Abia State, between Aba and Port Harcourt.
Ikpeazu, who presented the proposal along with his Ekiti State counterpart and Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Kayode Fayemi, said at the weekend in Lagos, that many of the participants at the forum agreed that ECC is a project worthy of their commitment
He said the project is privately-led, although stakeholders include the local community, the Abia State government and the Federal Government.
He listed the advisers and financiers as the African Export-Import Bank (Afeximbank), African Development Bank (ADB), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
According to AfDB, 56 boardroom deals valued at $67.6 billion were tabled at the forum while 52 deals worth $40.1 billion secured investor interest.
Among the deals that secured investors’ interest was the Enyimba Economic City.
Ikpeazu said the EEC would boost Nigeria’s participation in the Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). He thanked the Federal Government for supporting the project which he said would create not less than 700,0000 jobs within 10 years.
The Governor said Olam International, one of the world’s leading food and agri-business companies, had announced its interest in establishing a textile factory in ECC.
Ikpeazu said: “The time has come for our people to move from trading to manufacturing. EEC is the vehicle through which we are going to achieve that.”
Last month, ECC won the first Charter Cities Business Plan Contest for 2019 with a cash prize of $25,000.
To clinch the coveted prize, the Enyimba Economic City beat several other participating Cities from around the world including Blackstone Charter Cities of Australia and Novgorod New Hanse Town of Russia who came 2nd and 3rd.
In a statement by the Charter Cities Institute, organisers of the contest, the Institute said it is “pleased to announce the winners of our Charter Cities Business Plan Contest. After application reviews and interviews, 1st prize and $25,000 is awarded to Enyimba Economic City (Nigeria), 2nd prize, $10,000, to Blackstone Charter Cities (Australia), and 3rd prize to Novgorod New Hanse Town (Russia).
“We launched the Charter Cities Business Plan Contest to identify teams around the world with forward-looking, viable plans for a Charter City. The winners each exceeded our expectations regarding the location, target industries, and growth potential of their respective Charter Cities.”
The Charter Cities Institute looks forward to working with all three teams as they execute their plans”.
The Enyimba Economic City is a 9464-hectare Greenfield Charter City. It is planned to connect the nine states of South-East and South-South.
The region has a population of about 60 million which will turn the area into a global business hub. The city will leverage existing / improved infrastructure, including high-grade roads, rail, airports, inland ports, natural gas pipelines, a 540 MW powerplant, water treatment and waste management.
The economic city will feature a state-of-the-art administrative structure to attract residents and businesses.
Enyimba’s core industry will be manufacturing, with ancillary drivers including logistics, medical, entertainment, education, commerce, lifestyle residency, and aviation.
It is expected to turn out an annual output of over $5 billion and designed to provide over 700,000 direct jobs which will massively transform the economy of the area.