The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has approved an $80 million loan to fund the Ekiti Knowledge Zone project in the country.
The bank said this in a Monday statement.
According to the AfDB, the initiative aims to bolster digital innovation and entrepreneurship and create 26,000 jobs, contributing approximately $14 million annually in net economic benefits.
“This structure will enable investors to manage the operations of the zone,” AfDB said.
“The project also aims to attract businesses, including tech start-ups, business process outsourcing firms, fabrication and production companies, research institutes and corporate back-office operations, to locate in the Zone.
“The Ekiti Knowledge Zone’s incubator programme will support promising start-ups with pre-seed and seed funding. It will also offer skills-enhancement training in information and communication technology targeting the youth in Ekiti and neighbouring states,” the statement read.
“It will thus offer various incentives for private investors, including free repatriation of capital, profits and dividends by foreign investors, rent-free land during the construction phase, tax holidays, waivers on import and export duties, and expatriate quotas for companies operating in the zone.”
The loan, part of a larger $1.58 billion loan request approved by the federal executive council, will support the development of infrastructure, including a 20-hectare green technology park, roads, electricity, water supply, and wastewater treatment facilities.
The statement added that AfDB’s financing is expected to attract technology firms, investors, and over 50 seed and early-growth startups, fostering economic growth in the region.
Lamin Barrow, Bank Group Director General of the Nigeria Country Department, said, “The Ekiti Knowledge Zone Project design responds to the requirements of technology firms and prospective investors as indicated during the preparation phase, lessons learnt from similar Bank-financed projects such as the Cabo Verde and Senegal technology parks, and drew insights from good practices of similar initiatives in the continent and globally.”
The Ekiti Knowledge Zone is a Federal government-backed and state-led Special Economic Zone with fiscal incentives to attract private sector investment in the digital technology and knowledge economy value chains.
The Ekiti State government is providing $14.8 million in counterpart funding for the estimated $94.8 million project cost.
AfDB’s current portfolio in Nigeria consists of 48 operations valued at $4.4 billion, spanning public and private sector projects.