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AfDB Approves US$80 Million Loan For Nigeria Knowledge Zone


The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved an US$80 million loan for the construction of the Ekiti State Knowledge Zone (EKZ) in Ekiti state, southwestern Nigeria.
The EKZ is designed to be a special economic zone that promotes research, digital innovation and entrepreneurship. It is intended to help turn Ekiti state into a knowledge-based economy, generating 26,000 jobs, and contribute some US$14 million annually in net economic benefits.
The total project cost is estimated at US$94.8 million. The state government will provide US$14.8 million in counterpart funding.
The zone will be developed as a public-private partnership (PPP), with the state government providing land and infrastructure. The groundbreaking is planned for 2024.
The EKZ aims to attract technology start-ups, business process outsourcing firms, fabrication and production companies, research institutes and corporate back-office operations. These will include anchor investors from the private sector to form part of a special-purpose vehicle (SPV) enabling multiple investors to pool financing and manage the zone’s operations. 
The zone aims to attract investment commitments from at least 15 firms, generating revenues of about US$10.8 million. 
As a free zone, the EKZ will offer incentives such as free repatriation of capital, profits and dividends for foreign investors, rent-free land during construction, tax holidays, waivers on import/export duties, and expatriate quotas.
The project also advances government-enabling policies and the establishment of the Ekiti State Innovation Fund, which is expected to mobilise investments into more than 50 seed and early-growth start-ups.
The Ekiti government has delineated 956 hectares of land to develop the EKZ, which will be rolled out in two phases. The first phase is set to cover 209 hectares of land. 
The site is close to the Ekiti airport and within close proximity to Afe Babalola University and Federal Polytechnic Ado Ekiti.
The civil works planned for the site include:

Office space: This will include blocks of offices comprising bungalows and multi-storey buildings for administrative services;
Residential facilities: Up to 856 housing units will be constructed, consisting of 124 blocks (496 units) of three-bedroom terrace bungalows, 64 blocks (256 units) of two-bedroom terrace bungalows and 26 blocks (104 units) of one-bedroom terrace bungalows;
Social infrastructure: This will include a 100-bed multi-system specialist hospital, primary and secondary schools and a sports arena;
Commercial infrastructure: The EKZ will feature a shopping mall as well as a recreational area for leisure and local market stalls;
Power: The EKZ will be powered initially by a 5MW independent power plant (IPP) whose capacity can be expanded to 10MW upon full occupancy. The IPP will be powered by gas-fired turbines combined with renewable energy sources such as solar.

The Ekiti government says the AfDB’s financing will leverage other development partners’ programmes and bolster the development of infrastructure such as a 20-hectare green technology park and service infrastructure including roads, electricity, water supply and wastewater treatment facilities.
“EKZ’s tagline – ‘Where Innovation Thrives’ isn’t just a mantra – it is a pledge to investors and businesses, local and international alike,” said Akintunde Oyebode, commissioner of finance for Ekiti State Government. “We’re working hard to improve key indicators crucial to your success, spanning transportation networks, healthcare, concessions and streamlined bureaucratic processes.”
BREAKING: The African Development Bank Group @AfDB_Group has approved an $80 million to fund the Ekiti Knowledge Zone (EKZ) project.
EKZ aims to foster digital innovation & entrepreneurship, create 26,000 jobs, and contribute about $14 million annually in net economic benefits. pic.twitter.com/ApJOzQb6UZ
— Government of Ekiti State (@ekitistategov) November 28, 2023
Photo: Technology training (Source: AfDB)


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