Major changes introduced by the local government of Nigeria’s northwestern Sokoto State are enhancing life and employment opportunities for citizens and readying it for international investment
Foreign investment in Africa is set to reach its highest levels this year since the 2008-09 global financial crisis, and the African Development Bank, the UN and the OECD are all painting a rosy outlook for the continent. Inflows of direct and portfolio investments are expected to hit $84.3 billion in 2014 as major institutions, such as Goldman Sachs and The Carlyle Group, and multinationals, including Nestlé and Unilever, are attracted to Africa’s strong economic growth and improved governance. Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, for example, has also recently widened its footprint in Africa with investments in Tanzania and Nigeria.
“Nigeria is very unique with a lot of potential in agro-industry and minerals, and it has the right quality and quantity of human resources. The potential of the economy is vast and diverse,” says Alhaji (Dr.) Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, Governor of Nigeria’s Sokoto State. “With the efforts we are making in the transformation of the nation, we will soon be able to compete across the world.”
Dr. Wamakko is heading the transformation that is sweeping through his home region. Located at the northwestern tip of the country, Sokoto State is reaping the benefits of electoral promises made real as the local government stays true to pre-election pledges to turnaround the state with massive investments in infrastructure, education, health and empowerment initiatives.
In the run-up to winning the 2007 governorship election, Dr. Wamakko said: “We have designed a blueprint aimed towards alleviating the terrible living conditions of the people of Sokoto State. The plans will revolve around the provision of a sustainable water supply and healthcare delivery services, enhancing the acquisition of both Islamic and Western education, restoring confidence in the minds of the people – most especially the youth – and restoring the esteem and prestige of our traditional, political and social institutions.”
Since then, a raft of new schemes has been launched to boost all sectors of society and the economy.
The state’s capital, Sokoto City, is the seat of the former Sokoto Caliphate – an empire that grew during the 1800s to become one of largest and most economically successful in pre-colonial sub-Saharan Africa. It was led by the first Sultan of Sokoto, Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio, whose descendant Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III is the current Sultan and the highly revered representative of Nigeria’s Muslim community.
The Sultan is also the head of the Nigerian National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, a role that has seen him help mediate interreligious relations between Nigeria’s Muslim-majority north and Christian-majority south. Sokoto’s people are proud of the peace and stability, as well as the emerging economic opportunities, it can offer the international community
Dr. Wamakko notes relations with the U.S. are “excellent”. The governor says: “Sokoto is a place for investors. We appreciate investors and we are always looking forward to partnering with new potential investors and provide them with a welcoming environment for them to implant new business ventures. We have an independent Commissionaire of Investment, assigned with the job of basically ensuring investors can easily and quickly adapt to Sokoto’s environment. We have good hotels for their comfort, and huge potential in minerals, agriculture and livestock.”