A four –man delegation from China EXIM bank, is on a one-day working visit to Kano, as part of the preparations for the take –off of the proposed multi-billion Kano Light Rail project.
The visit of the delegation, according to sources was a step towards eventual approval of the $1.85 billion which the Kano state government is seeking from the bank for the project.
The funding is being sought under the China – Africa Cooperation Action Plan, which emphasizes the development of infrastructure in African countries among other things.
Speaking to BusinessDay on the side-line of the visit, Umar Tofa, vice-chairman, Kano Investment Promotion Agency, who led the delegation to sites designated for the project, said the visit was a follow up to earlier one paid to Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja.
According to him, the Federal Government is guarantying the loan package, and the visit of the delegation is to enable them have first- hand information about the site of the projects, pending final approval of the loan.
“The Light Rail project with a total length of about 73 kilometers, will crisscross Kano metropolitan and would be executed in four phases, and feasibility studies have shown that the project is extremely viable.
“A consultant appointed for the project has expressed a huge confidence in the ability of the state government to make the project a huge success” he noted.
Tofa, who is the chairman, Tofa Group of Companies, revealed that the Kano State Government through His Excellency, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, during its official visits to China has solicited the assistance of the Chinese authorities in the area of agriculture in view of its huge untapped resources.
He added that the Governor Ganduje during the visit signed an agreement with China EXIM bank for the funding of the Light Rail project. The bank would be providing 85 percent of the contract sum, while the balance of 15 percent would be sourced locally.
China EXIM bank delegation, was led to “Bata Roundabout” in Sabon-Gari area of the metropolis, a place that will be serving as the major Terminus for the four routes of the Light Rail.
After inspecting the spot, the delegation then proceeded to outskirt area of Kofar -Ruwa, which is expected to serve as Depot as well as Service Yard of the railway.
It would be recalled that Governor Ganduje during his visit to China, last year, also signed agreement in the area of alternative energy, aimed at actualizing the huge potential of the state as scientific proof has shown that the state has the highest and most consistent level of radiation in Nigeria, hence potential for solar energy.
By the strategic geographic position of the state, Kano is believe has excellent prospect in terms of wind energy. Both energy sources, he are key areas of feasible Chinese investment.
Also, recently, the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, visited Kano state, during which he disclosed that Nigeria has a very competitive edge in agriculture and human resources, assuring that his country would support Nigeria to exploit its potential for accelerated development.
Pingjian said Nigeria must seize the opportunity of what he termed “China’s over capacity”, resulting in relocation to other places, to revamp its economy, pointing Chinese states and local governments are keen in investing in places such as Kano, for mutual benefit.
Chinese investors he added, are also willing to invest in the manufacturing sector of Nigeria’s economy as part of attempt to actualize resolutions of the China – Africa Cooperation Action Plan, and asserted that his country has a lot to offer, having been rated as the first in manufacturing in the world.