Agro-Industrial Processing Zones Launched in Nigeria

The African Development Bank and its partners will fund US$538.05 million for the project's 1st phase.

By Chriselle Moraes on
19th December 2022

The African Development Bank launched a program to stipulate agricultural transformation in Nigeria through Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs). 

“The Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones are new economic zones, located in rural areas, to be fully supported by infrastructure (power, water, roads, digital infrastructure, and logistics) that will allow food and agribusiness companies to locate within such zones. This will put them close to farmers in production catchment areas, provide market offtakes for farmers, support processing and value addition, reduce food losses, and allow the emergence of highly competitive food and agricultural value chains,” said Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank. 

The program launch was followed by a special forum during which participants discussed the benefits and implementation of the special agro-industrial zones. Speaking at the special forum, the vice president of ARISE Integrated Industrial Platforms, Suren Abeywickrema, described his company’s experience running processing zones in West Africa, explaining how Nigeria’s special agro-industrial processing zones could be modeled. ARISE IIP is operating the $1 billion forestry-based Nkok special economic zone in Gabon. That zone has more than 100 international investors who have made an additional investment of more than $1.7 billion.

Launch of AfDB Agro-Processing Zones Program (
Forum Discussion at Launch of AfDB Agro-Processing Zones Program (

The SAPZ program in Nigeria will have a two-phase developmental approach. Phase 1 (2022-2028) will see the Government and AfDB set up infrastructure and investment policies in targeted states over five years. The programme will subsequently be implemented in more states after the completion of the first phase, based on funding availability and lessons learnt. 

Phase 1 implementation of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) Program will be implemented in seven states (Cross River, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Ogun, and Oyo) and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Nineteen more states are expected to join the second phase.

The African Development Bank will provide funding of US$210 million, with the Islamic Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) jointly providing $310 million. The Nigerian Government will provide US$18.05 million. 

The Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones will create value chains for strategic crops in Nigeria, such as maize, cassava, rice, soybean, cocoa, poultry, and livestock products.

The director general of the African Development Bank in Nigeria, Lamin Barrow, said the implementation of the special agro-industrial processing zones would be done through a public-private partnership framework where the public sector provides an enabling environment while the private sector drives the program.

Leonard Kanje, general manager of Corporate Finance at the Bank of Industry, Nigeria, said the bank would provide financing for private sector players to locate in the zones., “We will bring affordable and long-term financing. There is no way any country can survive on double-digit financing. That is why we are involved and making access to finance easier. The Bank of Industry will also support capacity building for small and medium-scale enterprises located in the zones. We also expect to see hundreds more SAPZs springing up because it is a tested and trusted model.” 

Also speaking at the special forum following the launch, Nigeria's Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo said “If the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones program delivers on its objectives, and we have no doubt that it will, then we would in less than a decade have dealt a fatal blow to food insecurity, create millions of good paying agro-industrial jobs and opportunities and radically improve export earnings from agriculture”.

Muhammad Al Jasser, President of the Islamic Development Bank, was confident that Nigeria would successfully implement the SAPZ program, which would help boost food production, reduce price inflation and help revolutionize the agricultural sector and ensure food and job security. 

Katherine Meighan, The Associate Vice President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, ensured her organization’s role in helping the SAPZ programme. It empowers 100,000 direct beneficiaries, including smallholders, small processors, traders, and service providers in Ogun and Kano State, focusing on youth and women.

Top Photo: Agro Processing Plant (Ivan Tsyrkunovich | Dreamstime)

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