The United States Agency for International Development Nigeria (USAID | NIGERIA) in collaboration with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) is currently implementing the Nigeria Expanded Trade and Transport (NEXTT) Project which is expected to promote investments, trade, and the economic well – being of Nigerians.
The project is an integrated approach to economically develop the Lagos – Kano – Jibiya otherwise known as (LAKAJI) Corridor of eight contiguous states by promoting investments in agribusiness, advocating for business friendly policies along the Corridor, and supporting the development of infrastructure along the Corridor.
Since the inception of NEXTT Project’s in 2013, USAID has been working closely with NIPC in a symbiotic manner with respect to goals and aspirations of the two organizations, this is even as the Executive Secretary of NIPC has approved the posting of one NIPC management staff, Mr. Aminu Takuma to the NEXTT project in Abuja office to provide technical assistance for the success of the project. In order to realize the partnership, a Memorandum of Understanding between the USAID NEXTT and NIPC is underway and will soon be signed once the drafts are Okayed by the two organizations.
The NEXTT Projects has the approvals of the Federal Government and even prior to these projects, USAID have been making efforts in the area of Maximizing Agriculture Revenue in Key Enterprise and Target Sites (MARKETS) Project, and the Nigeria Expanded Exports Program (NEEP), in order to stimulate investment in trade- related infrastructure and services, reform trade policies and procedures, and the improvement of Nigerian firms position in global and regional markets.
Over the next four years, the NEXTT Project is expected to leverage on both the past and current efforts toward realizing the following outcomes:
• $25 million in new investments in projects along the LAKAJI Corridor;
• A 30% reduction in transport costs as well as the number of days of moving goods along the LAKAJI corridor;
• Dynamic trade policy coordination mechanisms that integrate public and private sector priorities into a strategic framework for engagement with trading partners;
• Modernization of customs procedures and systems with a view to meeting international standards for agricultural goods; and
•$30 million additional exports for strategic positioning of Nigerian exporters through export promotion institutions and industry groups.
By integrating the two agencies respective operations, and signing of the expected MoU, the NEXTT project would be able to deepen the relationship with the NIPC, particularly with respect to capacity building. The project would further closely engage NIPC Zonal offices in Kano and Ibadan with a view to strengthening NIPC’s investment promotion efforts along the LAKAJI Corridor.
In addition, NEXTT would like to further the development of the LAKAJI Corridor concept through closer relationships with the Private Sector and Government and with the deployment to the project,
Mr. Takuma is expected to carry on his current duties and responsibilities, as many of them are complimentary to NEXTT activities. In addition, he will be responsible for the following:
• Take strategic, technical, and conceptual leadership over the development of the LAKAJI Corridor, supported by NEXTT staff of local and international experts;
● Liaise with NEXTT Project Development Fund (PDF) members of staff to source seed funding for investors in agribusiness along the Corridor. The PDF was established by USAID to catalyze investment by cost sharing feasibility studies, business plans, and other initial stage investments;
● Work closely with institutions such as the LAKAJI Corridor Management Group and the LAKAJI Development Alliance to further their plans and develop their organizations;
● Interact with State Administrations to enhance their capacity to plan economically, leverage the corridor, and promote investment; and
● Lead the capacity building of NIPC officers in Kano and Ibadan to promote and monitor investment.
Mr. Takuma has since resumed to his new assignment; starting with tours of all the states within the LAKAJI corridor, including the Jibiya International Border to discuss with the business communities and the governments of the corridor states. In the last two months, the team has been able to approve intervention fund of US$ 462,588.69 to catalyze investments by cost sharing for feasibility studies, business plans, development and other initial stage investments; these intervention fund is expected to pull in investments of US$ 86,998,500.00 along the corridor states in the next six to eight months.