How to Make Kano the Center of Commercial Excellence By Anas Yazid

By anas | 08 November 2016 | 7 Comments

The development achieved in the previous government under the leadership of Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was tremendous and unprecedented. Considerable amount of money was invested in infrastructure such as flyovers, new roads, road expansions, walkways, underpasses, street lightings, power generation, housing developments, and many many more. However, these infrastructure require considerable amount of funds to operate and maintain.

Now, due to crash in global oil prices, the Federal Government has officially declared that the country’s economy has gone into recession. In addition, the activity of militants in the Niger Delta has made the oil production drop. All these translate into less and less income for the states from the federation account, and it is so bad that many states cannot even pay salaries.Hence, it did not come as a surprise that most states are looking inwards to raise funds for overheads, salaries and development projects.

It is worthy to note that the repositioning of the Board of Internal Revenue by His Excellency The Executive Governor Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State into Kano Internal Revenue Service (KIRS) was a good move in the right direction. However, the catch is economic activity needs to take place for business owners and individuals to make profit or disposable income respectively, and remit some portion of that to the government.

Now, the reality of today in Nigeria is we have the exact opposite of the situation taking place. Among several things that have skyrocketed include: food prices, inflation, fuel prices, exchange rate, interests rate, electricity rate and the list goes on and on. If you want to raise revenue from the formal sector, unfortunately, SMEs form the large chunk of that ecosystem, and most of them are currently, hardly breaking even. No one wants to touch the informal sector in Nigeria today, imagine someone asking a shoe shiner to pay his taxes, I would not imagine doing that, because I am afraid of a getting the beating of my life.

Therefore, it can be safely stated that a more practical way to increase IGR at a State level, especially for a state with potentials of Kano State, would be through increased economic activity, and at an ambitious and unprecedented level.

This can be achieved by leveraging on the achievements of the last government and building Kano State further in a more focussed and organized manner, with the specific objective of taking commercial activities to an unprecedented level never witnessed in the African continent. This approach not only ensures increased IGR, but also increases employment generation and overall financial independence of the State. Lagosians realized this fact over 16 years ago, and they have gone a long way in achieving their goals. However, achieving something like this for a state like Kano, requires fresh and new approach especially to 4 key sectors, that will create the enabling environment which will spear head economic development and turn Kano from The Center of Commerce to The Centre of Commercial Excellence.

Before we go further and discuss these 4 key sectors, lets agree on one thing, "what is the vision of Kano State"?. Lack of vision is the precursor to failure, one could note that great leaders all through the ages had perfect vision of what they wish to achieve for their people, and sold that vision very well to the people and  the people accepted. This is the only way we will all go in synchronization, the people and the leadership, and not in different directions like headless chickens tearing the entire state apart. So the vision I propose is “Making Kano State the Center of Commercial Excellence”, and the most attractive destination for foreign investment. This can be achieved by effectively and strategically positioning Kano State for rapid economic development and prosperity. This will bounce Kano from its current position as the North’s commercial nerve center to the economic nerve centre of West Africa, much like Dubai to Middle East. The great development projects achieved in the last government, has placed Kano on the map of Nigeria as one of the most progressive states. Now it is time to place Kano on the map of Africa and the world as the most attractive destination to do business.

The journey of Kano becoming the center of commercial excellence is not going to be easy, it is going to be full of challenges, hence it requires fresh new ideas that are ambitious in nature and developed by a Think Tank of young experts with international training and exposure. The team should be called Kano State Economic Development Team, it should comprise of engineers, investment bankers, financial experts, legal experts etc.  These young individuals are available locally and in diaspora. A team of these young experts can be put together easily. This team should be responsible for creating a Kano State economic development master plan.

Four key areas should be approached with the overall aim of making Kano Center of Commercial Excellence. They are Power, Transport, Waste Management, and Efficient Civil Service. Other components of achieving the said goals are creating good laws and policies that will help implement the objectives in the 4 key sectors; for example: restructuring the education curricula that will prepare the younger generation with the requisite knowledge and skills that the new vision of making Kano Center of Commercial Excellence demands. An international state of the art center for enterprise development would need to be established to improve the capacity of the Kano business community to help them adapt and cope with the rapid growth that will come with achieving the vision of making Kano Center of Commercial Excellence.

The methodology is to focus on 4 key areas that will have trickling effect on other sectors, and will automatically bring about rapid growth never seen before in the country. They are:
1. Power Generation
It is obvious that power is the raw input of any economic development, and the position and population of Kano provides it with the potentials to generate the highest quantity of power more than any other state in the nation. All avenues of generating power should be explored under a PPP arrangement, they include hydrocarbon based fuel (available from Niger Repulic), solar and solar thermal (Kano has the second highest sunshine and temperatures in Nigeria), Biogas (due to its population and industries, Kano produces the highest quantity of biodegradable waste), Wind (Kano has the highest wind speed in Nigeria), and Coal (available in Nassarawa & Kogi). These can generate up to 5,000MW of power, while the demand of Kano Distribution Zone (Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Azare & Niger Republic) is just 600MW. This will make Kano very attractive for production, manufacturing, agro-allied and IT companies, in addition to the huge revenues to be generated by selling the excess power.

2. Transportation Systems
The infrastructure built in the last government will not last very long if they don’t generate funds that could be used to maintain them, or if they are overused. Good transport system is the back bone for economic development and has the potential of not only reducing stress on the road infrastructure, but will also meet the needs of the increasing workforce that will be brought about by achieving commercial excellence, it will also decrease accidents and pollution. Strategies to be developed in this regard will include light rail system which I am glad the government is currently working on, city and out of city modern bus mass transit system, limited ban on tricycles and paving all roads in communities with adequate walkways. Even a state co-owned airline company can be established that will meet the demands of air travel to anywhere in the world. These can mostly be achieved through PPP.

3. Waste Management and Sanitation Systems
It is obvious that most successful commercial cities in the world have one peculiarity “They are Very Clean”, this is because commercial cities attract many visitors that increase population, with increase in waste production. Inadequate waste management practices, will not only make the city inhabitable and eye sore, but will lead to endemic diseases, and whenever there is any epidemic event, the consequences can be catastrophic. New approach to waste management, should be waste reduction. Through a PPP arrangement an effective recycling industry can be established by improving and standardizing the entire value chain of the current informal recycling sector in the state. Food and green waste from markets (e.g. ‘Yankaba & ‘YanKura) can be converted to compost and sold as manure. Organic wastes (abattoirs, tanneries, poultry) can be digested to produce electric power. These will ensure the dramatic reduction of waste in Kano State, what is left can be taken to properly engineered landfills to generate electric power yet again, while all dumpsites will be decommissioned. This ensures safe disposal of the waste and protection of the environment. All the above can be structured under a PPP arrangement. All drainage systems should be upgraded to reduce destruction of lives and property and also prolong the life span of infrastructure.

4. Efficient Public Sector
The private sector can never flourish without a strong public sector. The current trend of approaching work in public service if continued will make achieving the target goals of the 3 sectors stated above seem like a joke. Presently, the norm is citizens are at the service of civil servants instead civil servants being at the service of citizens. This will be the biggest challenge of making Kano Center of Commercial Excellence. The approach to overcoming this challenge is first to reduce its size. This can be achieved by somehow leasing/privatizing some of the government institutions that are asset based and capable of generating their own income such as REMASAB, RUWASA, KANO PRINTING PRESS, TRIUMPH etc. They should be positioned and run to compete with the private sector, they will have to engage in sales, marketing, maximize margins, compete to get jobs outside Kano, reduce expenditure just like private outfits do. They will do this since they will be responsible for paying their own salaries and overheads. This means they will have CEOs instead of MDs, and the staff will have KPIs and promotion will be based on performnace evaluation. The government will reduce its functions to regulation, monitoring and administration. This will reduce government spending, and enables it to  concentrate on building the capacity of its staff along the lines of regulation, monitoring and administration.

The ideas suggested in this document are ambitious and challenging, they are not expected to be achieved overnight, but if carefully planned for, they can be achieved gradually over a span of 10 - 20 years. With the leadership of his Excellency, his widely acknowledged sharp vision of making Kano a better a place, and his ability to set clear goals with a strong will, Kano can truly become Center of Commercial Excellence.


With due respect sir, the ideas you presented are brilliant and out of the box. i pray Kano state government will be lucky enough to find this document and work on this ideas and implement them as quickly as possible. Lagos state have develop a master plan which every government that have come to power from Tinubu's to Akinwumi's Anbode is implementing. My fear is that, with this kind of bitter politics being practice in kano, will any body that is opportune to be in power within the projected 20years in which the plan can be implemented fully and effectively drop all kind of grudges and implement it for the sake of the kano people. For this, we have to be optimistic and pray about it. on the issue of almajiranci in Kano, i will like you to propose a possible solution to tackle the menace waiting to unleash it self. My suggestion is that kano state government should make one primary and secondary school in all the 44 local government a boarding/sangaya school, with hostels and feeding arrangement. In the schools, the teachers already there should teach basic western and vocational education,while the government should collaborate with the ulama operating sangaya school in kano, by employing them to serve as the islamic education teachers. This can be more easier to achieve if the kano state government will act fast and seek the support of shiek Isyaka Rabiu and other tijaniya ulama's. I know that there are a lot of work to be done, but it very important to start doing something as soon as possible. Thank you for this educative writeup.

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