Two banks, Heritage Bank Plc and African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank), have signed $1billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Zamfara State Government in the areas of mining, agriculture and water resources.
In addition to Heritage Bank, which is the banker to the project, another financial institution involved in the transaction is PAC Capital Limited, the investment banking arm of PanAfrican Capital Holdings.
Speaking with journalists at the signing of the MoU in Abuja, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo, stated that the win-win collaboration amongst the institutions would promote and fast track support that would help Zamfara explore its unharnessed resources for the benefit of its people and the nation’s economy.
According to him, the initiative will unlock massive opportunities inherent in solid minerals and support efforts on local content promotion, facilitate industrial development and export development.
Sekibo said: “It is a game changer that will drive formidable economic growth for the state government, serve as backbone to the economy through job creation, as well as a way of cushioning the present economic situation.”
President/Chairman, Board of Director, Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, said the bank was happy to be part of the partnership towards unlocking the abundant opportunities in the state.
He said: “We had a very fruitful meeting with the delegation from Zamfara State led by the governor. In Afrexim Bank we are pleased that the leadership of Zamfara State has a clear vision. They have identified clearly the strengths of their state, the opportunities and what they need to unlock these opportunities.
“They have decided to take their own destiny in their hands, which is actually the foundation of the federal structure that we operate in Nigeria, that states should do all they can to maximise the use of the resources they have for the benefit of their people, so that collectively, we can grow the economy of Nigeria to become more that it is today.
“We also discussed resources partnership in the area of Agriculture and Water to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities presented by the system in Zamfara State, not only to generate electricity but also for Agriculture, including other core production for export and consumption locally.
“We also discussed partnership to revive the cotton industry in Zamfara State. There is no reason why Zamfara State cannot produce cotton as Republic of Benin which is now the largest producer of cotton in Africa.”
Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, who commended Heritage Bank for facilitating the funds, noted that the discussion commenced barely two weeks ago in Dubai.
He said: “We started this discussion just about two weeks ago when we met with some Afreximbank people in Dubai with the Managing Director of Heritage Bank for which he promised to deliver our message to the bank. Within that week, he contacted him and the Afreximbank Presisent decided to come to Nigeria.
“Zamfara State, as you are all aware, had so many issues before my emergence as the governor, for which reason and to limited time, just a month, God helped us to tackle some of these issues. He said that his administration is committed to making the state a full secured state.
“We have started that by engaging the bandits in peace, which they have accepted to lay down their arms. As at today, Mr. President, we have secured the release of over 300 people that are under captivity. The securing of the release of these people was done without any commitment; no single kobo or ransom was paid to the bandits.
“So we assure you that Zamfara State is safe for investors, they can come to the state. They can come to the state and the government is committed to making sure that everything is out in place to guarantee their security.”