The multi-billion naira Kano Economic City is primed to become one of the largest business hubs in West Africa and a major economic driver of the ancient city.
It sits on 117.2 hectares on Zaria Road, Kano. The Kano Economic City (KEC), also known as Kanawa International Market, is ready for business. Traders are eager to see the market take off.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, who inspected the project, said Kano is an industrial and commercial nerve centre of northern Nigeria and some West African countries. Because of the state’s burgeoning population, markets in the city are becoming inaccessible so the best way is to find a site on the outskirts of Kano and develop a world-class modern market.
Why such a gigantic trade centre? “We want to provide a platform for entrepreneurs, traders, and business tycoons to have easy access to world-class infrastructure befitting of a modern market place. The essence is to harness product value-chain opportunities and improve economic growth,” Ganduje said.
KEC represents the largest economic hub in Northern Nigeria, designed as an architectural focal reference point for major market development projects within West Africa. This was learnt that the master plan of the Kano Economic City was laid out in a pattern inspired by the Arewa logo, which symbolises the unity of the North.
The project is a Public-Private Partnership between Kano State Government (which provided the land) and Brains and Hammers Limited (developer), with Jaiz Bank as the financier. The project risks have been appropriately shared in a bid to ensure successful delivery and use of the market by traders and customers alike
The market, with 13,000 shops, has trailer and passenger motor parks, conference centres, amusement parks, educational institutes, banks, petrol stations, hotels and motels, malls and medical facilities, among other ancillary facilities.
There are power supply and distribution, street lighting, 24-hour security, telecommunications ducts and other essential plug and play facilities that typify an efficient trade community.
Kano is one of Nigeria’s major industrial states and business melting pot for northern traders for over a century. But the coming of KEC will open a new vista in cross-border/country trade.
The Kano Economic City Board Chairman, Mallam Muhammed Aliyu, said the market has been developed in three phases.
The phase one, Aliyu said, is made up of 1,000 units of the duplex, luxury and basic shops dedicated to pharmaceutical wholesalers, and another 3,000 units of shops designed for the information technology section, to be called ‘GSM Village.’
“KEC is an appropriately-timed project in Kano State, necessitated by the quantum of commercial activities and cross-border trades facilitated through the state.
“These commercial activities have substantially outgrown existing market facilities and as such dense congestion of the markets and its environs accelerate wear and tear on existing infrastructure.
“This has led to huge financial losses emanating from uncontrollable fire outbreaks and other menaces which occur almost on an annual basis in recent time,” Aliyu said.
Each shop at KEC is planned to be self-sustaining in terms of fire outbreaks. That is, if fire guts a shop, it will not engulf the neighbouring shop. The power supply is sourced from the national grid, connected through underground cables. There is provision for solar power supply too. The market is built with dedicated staircases and toilets that provide a unique solution for modern-day business operations.
The last purpose-built market in Kano state was implemented in the 1980s. The project developer, Brains and Hammers, said it was from that point of development, job creation, and commerce enhancement that it decided to partner the Kano state government to develop the Kano Economic City.
The Kano Economic City is built, not just as an economic hub, but an Export Processing Zone (EPZ), with well-crafted components that include 80,000 square meters of Mega Wholesale and Retail warehouses.
The developer said the project has primarily targeted Kano traders who will grab the opportunity to expand their trades in KEC, which sits in a strategic location, providing excellent infrastructure, heavy clientele traffic potential – local, regional and international patronage, and easy accessibility.
“Traders would be excited about shop ownership in a market that provides a desirable ambiance and offers significant levels of market dominance and a sense of trade distinction within the Kano trader community.
“While the primary target market is Kano, KEC would unequivocally serve other traders in Nigeria and across West Africa whose business value chain activities interlink with Kano markets.
“The project possesses all infrastructural requisite to ensure functionality, with all amenities that typify a community that has a knack for optimal quality and excellence,” KEC Chairman Aliyu said.
Project Director Dr. Abdullahi Hadejia Gambo said the pharmaceutical and GSM sections, comprising 4,000 shops, would be inaugurated first. He explained that the pharmaceutical section is a federal initiative on drugs, primarily to control its movement and abuse. The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) which is responsible for regulating and controlling the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, sale and use of drugs will have an office at KEC to check counterfeit and expired drugs. The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), charged to eliminate the manufacturing and sale of hard drugs, will also have a branch at the market. This will help to crack down on perpetrators of drug abuse.
Gambo said the Kano Economic City concept has been developed on the epithet: Work, Play and Live, making sure the trader is a professional and he or she owns the shop, of which he can work or trade and pay daily.
Another fantastic thing about the Kano Economic City project is the use of local content. All the building materials used in the project are sourced locally. All the engineers and workers are Nigerians. “This is to encourage and promote ours and as well prevent capital flight,” the project director Gambo said.
Ganduje said: “We have gone around the world to see different shopping malls. We have seen the Dubai shopping malls, the Emirates shopping malls and the China shopping malls. Then we said let us have something in Kano similar or better than what we have seen abroad.
“And it is because of our political will and commitment that we are actualizing the development of the Kano Economic City, which when completed, will be the best economic city in the country.”
The governor explained that the Kano Economic City would silently tackle insecurity in the Kano-Jigawa axis by creating thousands of jobs to the army of unemployed youths in the region. This will go a long way to addressing crime and other social vices. Ganduje said the international market will generate huge revenues (IGR) for the state which would be used for developmental purposes, as part of his administration’s agenda to transform Kano into a megacity.
This report was first published by The Nation