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FG, Abia to build economic city in Aba

...To accommodate 1.2m people

…Create 625,000 jobs

Emeka Okoroanyanwu

A new city that will accommodate more than 1.5 million inhabitants, create 625,000 jobs, provide 300,000 urban housing units and 2,000 industrial/business entities with estimated annual value output of more than $5 billion will soon be built in the South Eastern state of Abia, Nigeria.

Already a definitive agreement for the game-changing project, named Enyimba Economic City has been signed between the Federal and Abia State Governments on one side and Crown Realities Limited, the private sector developer of the project.

The project, which is a brainchild of the Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, is to be built on 9,803 hectares of land, spanning three local government areas of Ukwa East, Ukwa West and Ugwunagbo, all near the ancient city of Aba in Abia State.

Construction will start on the project by the first quarter of next year. Already, the Federal government has designated the Enyimba Economic City a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) with Free Trade Zone status. It is one of the three pilot (SEZ) projects to be established in the country. Others are to be located in Kano and Lagos.

The main attractions for the project, which is the first of its kind in the country, are that the land is at the center of the five Southeast and four South-south states and has the right characteristics and ingredients to drive massive economic expansion of the region and by extension Nigeria.

It has major arterial, intercity roads connections and is near the existing seaports of Onne and Port Harcourt and the proposed Akwa Ibom Deep Sea Port. It has proximity to the airports in Owerri, Port Harcourt and Uyo. It has functional gas pipelines and border the Owaza gas fields with the existing national rail line, the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri line, lying across it.

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Other key pillars of Enyimba Economic City is that it would create a global business hub that connects the nine Southeast and South-south states, build first class infrastructure in the location, including dedicated power station and attract economic activities that are mainly driven by manufacturing and supported by other uses such as logistics, medical, entertainment, education, lifestyle, residential etcetera.

Its main target is to attract proactively long term local and foreign investments, thereby integrating Nigerian businesses (manufacturing and services) into regional and global supply/value chains.

The project is well thought out as it combines the clear focus of the private sector and the enabling powers of the governments at all levels. It is, thus, a Private Public Partnership (PPP) of Crown Realties Plc, the host communities, Abia State Government and the Federal Government of Nigeria under project Made In Nigeria for Export (MINE) of the Federal Government.

Already the Federal Government has taken 20 per cent equity in the project.

The first phase of the project is fully designed and ready for execution and the projection is that construction will commence in the first quarter of 2019 and various major anchor tenant discussions are progressing well for manufacturing transfers from China, Germany and other countries to the new city.

The positioning and master planning of the city was done by some of the bests in the business in the world, Surbana Jurong of Singapore and CBRE of India in collaboration with local firms.

Agreement for the project was signed at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The Federal Government was represented by Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company.

President Muhammadu Buhari who witnessed the signing commended the Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu for initiating the project, and thanked the host communities for their commitment to the project, saying that everyone should be more confident of the success of the project.

The president assured the people of Abia State and other Nigerians of the Federal Government’s support and cooperation towards similar projects anywhere in the country.

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He said such initiatives were exactly what his administration was desperately looking for to create employment for the populace and boost the national economy.

In his remarks, Governor Ikpeazu, who led the delegation of leaders and stakeholders from the state, thanked the president for his support for the project, noting that Aba, a commercial city in Abia State where the project is sited, is strategically located for easy access from all Southeast and South-South states.

He disclosed that Aba alone has over 250,000 artisans engaged in various arts and trades, and that the Enyimba City zone covers three local governments of the state.

Ikpeazu noted that the project would not only be of immense benefit to Abia State but to the entire region and country.

Professor (Eze) Maxwell Ogbulu, who spoke on behalf of the host communities, thanked Ikpeazu for the project and informed the president that all the affected communities donated the land voluntarily because of the awareness of the enormous benefits to them and the nation.