By MUHAHMMAD GARBA,
A new chapter will soon be opened in the commercial development of Kano, a city boasting of 1,000 years of continuous existence as a centre of commerce and in a great way transform the economy of the ancient city and restore it to its enviable position as strategic sub-Saharan African trade hub and linking Central Africa.
The Kano Economic City (KEC), located at Dangwauro Town along Kano-Zaria Highway, a gateway to the historic city, is a multi-billion naira project initiated 12 years ago but suffered setbacks in execution and subsequently abandoned in 2011 when the parties involved could not reach a balance in the financial agreement involved.
The project is gradually becoming a reality and is expected to bring to fruition, the zeal and commitment of the administration of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to continue the project in view of the fact that when completed, it would facilitate international trade and improve livelihood and business in the state by providing world class business structures.
The project being cascaded in three phases, is expected to be implemented in five to seven years. By the end of November, this year, the developer is completing part of the first phase of the project with the completion of 1,000 to 15,000 pharmaceutical shops and from 2,500-3,000 shops for GSM (phone) market which are expected to move into the international market.
The pharmaceutical areas also are provided within the marketplace for drug marketers, whereas hospitals also are a part of the structures being erected within the marketplace for quick access to the healthcare delivery system and offices for regulatory and security agencies that included the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Food, Drug and Administration and Control (NAFDAC), among others.
This development is a step forward in the Ganduje administration’s persistent war against the proliferation of adulterated and counterfeit drugs as well as substance abuse particularly among our teeming youth.
Other parts of the phase I and II of the project include 12 light factories for leather works, and beverages, a high-powered transformer, conference centre, 10,000 retail shops consisting of lock-up and open stalls, banks, 100 warehouses, hospitals, mosques, a police station, a games park, a fire station, passengers and goods’ motor park, trailer park, ancillary buildings and ample green areas, The development will also be housed to 43 grain silos in place, four filling stations, of which two will be mega stations and the remaining will be normal stations.
There will be spaces for large-scale industries for processing leather, meat, and identified commodities in a modern way, a world class training school for businessmen from Kano who could avail themselves of such opportunities instead of paying through their noses to obtain same abroad, independent power plant, central sewage plant, fiber optic internet cable service, and world class security services, among others.
The phase III of the project will comprise a World Trade Centre, 5, 3 and 2-star hotels, a 117.2-hectare to provide over 80,000 square metres (sqm) of mega wholesale and retail warehouses and 10,000 shops and stalls targeted at harnessing product value-chain opportunities, as well as to improve economic growth where the supply chain is taken into consideration in the design, which will also have a multiplier effect and complement other existing markets in the city while witnessing increase in economic activities.
The project, during which lifespan over 500,000 jobs would have been created, is part of the efforts to decongest the city of heavy vehicular traffic, movement of goods and services, curb incessant fire outbreaks in some of the city’s markets as well as to complement other markets in the city without necessarily competing with them.
KEC is also an approach initiated by the state government to improve the quality of the urban context through the relocation of numerous commercial activities that clogged up the city into a more distinct and new revenue generation scheme and is expected to decongest the prime areas within the metropolitan and as well provide space for new functions to boost economic activities in the city and facilitate the African Continental Free Trade Areas.
The development is a joint venture between the Kano State government and a prominent indigenous real estate and infrastructure development company, Brains and Hammers Limited, under Public Private Partnership (PPP). It is one of the high flying projects that is being constructed at a cost of N167.508 billion.
The agreement signed by the two parties provides that the developer will source for funds needed to execute the project, and proceed with the project on a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) arrangement. The terms also provide for the engagement of a qualified facility management company which will ensure decent management of the KEC.
The state government, on the other hand, provides land as equity contribution to the project, policy formulation and enforcement in respect to trade and commerce which would accelerate and support the occupation of KEC, leads the sensitisation of traditional rulers and the general public, as well as joint facility management of the market complex for a period of 25 years with an option of a renewal.
In order to enhance the chances of acquisition by all class of people, a mortgage arrangement has been put in place. It involves finance arrangements with some banks and particularly Ja’iz Bank and other institutional investors who have expressed interest in the signature project, which has already started receiving patronage through request for warehouses.
Ja’iz Bank, which is partnering with the developer to see to the successful development of the market, is also supporting the business community to own the shops and not to opt for rental relationship with shop owners. Under the partnership, while the state government do the awareness creation to would-be shop owners, it is designed that if someone wants to buy a shop and doesn’t have the capital to purchase, he can pay only 10 per cent and Ja’iz Bank will pay for the remaining 90 per cent to be paid in instalments.
The significance of the Kano Economic City is an indication that the Ganduje administration is committed to the overhaul of marketing and commercial structures with the provision of modern and other infrastructural facilities as roads to ease vehicular transportation as well as the movement of goods.
This is in addition to the construction of a mall at the popular Kantin Kwari Textile Market in the state christened “Yan Tebura Mall” also on a PPP basis that consists of over 4,600 stalls, made of iron to guard against fire outbreak. The edifices could be accessed through 11 newly-constructed roads built specifically to complement the mall. The famous Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi Market, the International Grains Market, Dawanau as well as the famous Kurmi Market in the old city are also billed for upgrade.
As a fast expanding and bustling commercial city that has its own rational stake of modern day urban challenges like traffic congestion, inaccessibility, shanty settlements and erosion, the Kano Master Plan which has not been rendered to any re-appraisal for a very long time, has now been subjected to a wholesale review in order to ease the flow of traffic, accessibility to as many areas as possible as well as give impetus for proper planning and implementation of mega structures and infrastructure.
The revised master plan, also seeks to make Kano an urbanised city with modern facilities such as the international market, are indicating how Kano is on the fast path to catch up with innovativeness in order to befit its mega city status, is not just a large city but highly an industrialised city that has infrastructure, basic amenities, security and other facilities to accommodate even increasing population of such city.
While the Ganduje administration is pushing for execution of the project to the latter because of its tremendous value addition to the state’s economy, his resolve to complete it was borne out of his quest to re-assert the state, as one of leading economic centres in the country and to make Kano a global city that can compete with any other city in the world as well as bring back the past glory on the global economy.
It also shows that any government could achieve a lot with scarce resources when the leader has the political will to deliver good governance and make the masses enjoy the dividends of democracy.
– Garba is Kano State commissioner for Information.