The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission in conjunction with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) is set to establish an agro processing cluster and special economic zone in Ogun State.
The Head of Division, Private Sector Department of UNIDO, Dr. Enobong Umoessien, who disclosed this, said the project would improve economic ties among West African states.
He made this known on Wednesday when he led a delegation on a courtesy call on the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, at his office in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Dr. Umoessien hinted that the economic zone would be sited between the borders of Ogun State and the Benin Republic, adding that it would be the first ECOWAS “Smart City” to serve as a hub for business relations within the West African region.
He said, “The project would integrate agricultural processing, light industry, create jobs and encourage women and youth involvement in the development process as well as control migration.”
The UNIDO official, who revealed that the government of Benin Republic had already passed a law endorsing the designated site of the zone between the country and Ogun State, explained that the visit was to encourage the Nigerian government to play its part in order to facilitate the project.
He added that the ECOWAS Commission was already creating a mega highway from Lagos to Cote d’Ivoire and Dakar, to ease distribution and marketing of goods within the West African region.
In his response, Governor Amosun said that his administration was fully ready to collaborate with the agency on the proposed project, saying three locations in the state would be made available out of which the agency could choose from.
He acknowledged that establishing an agro processing and logistic hub within the region would be in the interest of the member countries towards enhancing trade relations among them.
According to the governor, some of the proposed locations offered by the state government for the economic zone include Seme border area, Ihunbo – Ilase belt as well as Ipokia belt.