By Mariam Bukola Oyewo
Kaduna state has a vast land mass which is endowed with natural resources that can contribute significantly to its economic growth, enhance job creation, and promote environmental conservation. The state government has been making commendable efforts towards the exploration, mining and processing of these resources for economic, social and environmental benefits of its citizenry.
First, the government has taken a bold step towards environmental conservation by banning the indiscriminate felling of trees. Climate change is real and its poses a great challenge to mankind and Kaduna state is poised to address it through policy initiatives. Over the years, it has maintained the international standard of 25% tree vegetation cover, through tree planting campaigns.
However, there is the need to reinforce relevant planning and environmental impact assessment activities on wood fuel use, mainstreaming sub-national, national, and international agreements and conventions into planning and management of the forestry sector. In addition, there should be partnerships and collaborations aimed at massive forest restoration, afforestation, woodlots and industrial plantation. Similarly, there is the need to plant fast-growing and coppicing tree species for sustainable utilization.
Besides, Kaduna state is also rich in Gold deposits, Columbite, Cassiterite, Molybdenite, Tantalite, Iron Ore, and an array of Gemstones such as Aquamarine, Sapphire, Tourmaline, Topaz, Amethyst etc. These mineral resources have made Kaduna a favourable destination for investors in the mining sector. On its part, government has created the enabling environment for investors by providing a good road network and infrastructure. Already, there are over 80 commercial and manufacturing industries, driven heavily by agriculture, manufacturing, service industries, Artisanal Mining, and Micro, Small, and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) in the state. However, the potential of the state, coupled with its highly educated workforce, in addition to being the gateway to the north as well as its young and skilled manpower, make the state an investors’ haven.
Indeed, the El Rufai administration has done a lot to improve the state’s economy, by increasing Internally Generated Revenue. By so doing, Kaduna state is one of the few states that are not overly reliant on statutory allocation from the federation account. The government has attracted international companies that have created jobs, boosted its revenue earnings and added value to the local economy. In fact, Kaduna state is transiting to the Digital Economy.
Significantly, El Rufai created Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency(KADIPA), a one-stop shop for investors, which provides information on investment opportunities, collaborates with relevant agencies to get land, licenses, and permits for entrepreneurs who want to set shop in the state. In this regard, it has collaborated with mining companies to explore and exploit the mineral resources in the state. For example, Kaduna state has the biggest mining facility and investment in Nigeria. In fact, African Natural Resources and Mines, the company that the state is partnering with, has the biggest private investment in Nigeria and it is located at Gujeni, in Kargarko local government. This is the biggest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) outside the petroleum sector.
Specifically, Kaduna Mining Development Company has trained a lot of artisans in the mining sector. The company has formalised and sensitized small scale miners, as well as organized them into mining cooperatives. As at 2020, 49 mining cooperatives in different fields have been registered, the cooperatives include those that are engaged in gold mining, quarry workers, tin ore, gemstones and sundry artisans. The state government also organized a workshop for them in December 2020, where experts taught them occupational safety, health hazards, environmental degradation as well as how to develop business plans and manage their businesses. So far, more than 10,000 artisanal miners are in these 49 cooperative associations, as at two years ago.
Indeed, Kaduna state has a very long history of mining activities; records have shown that since 1910, gold has been exploited in Birnin Gwari and other neigbouring local government areas like Giwa, and Chikun. There are other strategic minerals spread across the state like the nickel, which was recently discovered by an Australian company called Comet Nigeria Limited, in a village called Dangoma in Jema’a local government. According to experts, the nickel at Dangoma is one of the best in the world. Beside gold, nickel, tin, columbite, some tantalite, Kaduna state has several gemstones like amethyst, aquamarine traumaline. Chibi Nigeria Limited, a company owned by a citizen of Kaduna state, has been operating for over 30 years and it controls about 50% of the dimension stone market in Nigeria. This precious stone is used for decoration of buildings.
With a good policy framework that has been put in place, coupled with government’s political will to attract and protect investments, Kaduna state is a good destination for entrepreneurs in the mining sector.