By Audrey Lotechukwu
MON, 21 SEPT, 2020-theGBJournal- “Kaduna’s performance in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index has been instrumental in attracting investors,” the Kaduna State Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai told the Oxford Business Group in a conversation highlighted in the latest comprehensive report released by the Group.
The report release coincides with the State’s 2020 Annual Economic and Investment (virtual) Summit (Kadinvest 5.0) hosted by the Governor which began today, and it describes how he set the foundation for State’s development, beginning with a Master Plan which he presented in 2018- the Kaduna State Infrastructure Master Plan (KADIMP) which outlined coordinated and purposeful infrastructure development in the state.
The plan lays out interventions in the key sectors of transportation, housing, education, health, water and sanitation, and agriculture. The total projected expenditures under KADIMP amount to N20trn for the 2018-50 period. KADIMP builds on the Kaduna Master Plan of 1967, which was updated in 2010. The plan aims to ensure that Kaduna becomes a role model for Nigeria’s urban development by 2050, as it leverages its strategic location in the northern urban corridor.
‘’Since 2015 Kaduna has secured investments in excess of $180m. Singaporean agri-business firm Olam International has invested $150m in poultry facilities, while the African Industries Group is investing $600m to build a steel plant that is currently under construction,’’ El-Rufai said.
‘’The state has attracted many other small and domestic investments in the tens of millions of dollars. In total, companies have committed to investing nearly $2.1bn over the next two years. We hope that both local and foreign investors will continue to recognise Kaduna as the preferred destination for investment in Nigeria.’’
In response to how the State is responding to international investors’ concerns about safety and security, he said, ‘’Kaduna is investing in both the technology and personnel side of security. For example, we put into place an initiative that uses young people based in communities to provide local intelligence. Other measures include the purchase of radio frequency trackers and drones for surveillance, as well as installing cameras and street lighting throughout metropolitan areas. We are also building a forensic laboratory to support local security agencies in their evidence-gathering activities.’’
‘’In situations where an investment location is distant from the main cities – as is the case with Olam, we provide 24/7 security protection to ensure businesses can operate without concerns. Investors can be confident that we will do our best to prioritise their safety; we work closely with businesses on this issue and are willing to provide whatever assistance is required to meet their needs.’’
The improvements in the State’s internally generated revenue (IGR), and what strategies are being deployed to achieve the IGR goal of N50 bn in 2020 hasn’t gone unnoticed.
According to the Governor, Covid-19 drastically reduced business activity and therefore affected our tax collection capabilities, but we are still optimistic that we will achieve our 2020 target. This is because the state has made considerable efforts to streamline the tax collection process, making it more business friendly, transparent and efficient.
‘’These measures have already been successful: IGR doubled from N13 bn in 2015 to N26 bn in 2017, and we collected N44 bn in taxes in 2019.
One way this was achieved was through legislation enacted in 2015 that simplified the tax process by ensuring businesses only pay taxes to one agency, the Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency. We also collect all taxes electronically. These measures significantly increased our tax revenue without raising taxes themselves. In fact, we lowered tax rates to encourage businesses to invest and waived numerous taxes for small businesses in light of the pandemic.’’
Prominent Nigerian economists are lined up to speak at the two-day Summit (the fifth Summit) including the Afican Development Bank Group (AfDB) President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, HRH, Muhammadu Sanusi, Mr Doyin Salami, Chairman Economic Advisory Council, Chinelo Anohu, Head and Senior Director, The African Investment Forum and Bismark Rewane, CEO, Financial Derivatives. Theme of the KADINVEST 5.0 is “Infrastructure, Industrialization and Innovation”
Special Guest is President Muhammadu Buhari who delivered the opening address.