Morocco: Sokoto, Morocco Set for Pioneering Phosphate Project

3 December 2019

Nseobong Okon-Ekong writes that the Sokoto State government has entered a business undertaking with Morocco that promises to enhance improved agricultural yield for farmers, and ultimately, increase the state's Internally Generated Revenue

Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal's recent visit to Morocco marked the conclusive stage of a cooperation agreement with OCP Morocco, a state-owned company and a world leader in phosphate and its derivatives, for the establishment of a phosphate blending plant in Sokoto state.

The state government, working in conjunction with the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF) had earlier keyed into the initiative to tap into its massive phosphate reserves, in producing phosphorus-containing fertilizer to scale up productivity in the agricultural sector.

This effort on the part of Governor Tambuwal further underlines his avowed commitment to boost the economy of Sokoto state. The phosphate reserves is estimated at 10 million tonnes and found suitable for fertilizer production. The establishment of the plant, through a strategic partnership with the Moroccan government-owned firm will serve the dual purpose of enhancing improved agricultural yield for farmers, and ultimately, increase the state's Internally Generated Revenue. And in due course, while Sokoto state, as well as, the entire country reaps the benefits, OCP on its part, would have expanded the frontiers of its professional impact, scoring another point in successfully delivering on such partnership model in Africa.

The state delegation to Morocco, was led by Governor Tambuwal. Among members of the team that accompanied him were Honourable Aminu Manya Achida, the Speaker of the Sokoto State House of Assembly, Bashir Gidado Jegawa, Commissioner for Commerce and State Development, Sirajo Marafa Gatawa, Commissioner for Lands and Housing and Bello Aliyu Goronyo, Commissioner for Solid Minerals. Others were Haruna Ahmed, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government, Buhari Dasuki, MD, Sokoto Investment Company and Akibu Dalhatu, Special Adviser to the governor.

Last October, Mohammed Hettiti, the Managing Director of OCP, led a team to Sokoto. The purpose of the visit was to put the pact between the state and Morocco in proper perspective, as a necessary step to realise the laudable project.

Subsequently, Tambuwal's presence in Morocco served as the second leg in the process of sealing the partnership in line with previous agreement, thereby fast-tracking the project's commencement. Moreover, Sokoto is striving to keep pace with its Moroccan partner, in order to meet a take-off date, scheduled between December 2019 and January 2020.

The Sokoto state government is working earnestly to pave the way for the coming of OCP to begin construction on the factory's site. As a concrete expression of the state's readiness to partner with OCP Morocco, Governor Tambuwal has allocated 10 hectares of land at Kalambaina Industrial Layout, for the Phosphate Blending Plant, with a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) issued to OCP Morocco.

Being a Moroccan government-owned mega entity, OCP Morocco is expected to work closely with the state with the full understanding of the peculiarities of inter-governmental agreements, in the best interest of both parties. As the agreement is an extension of President Muhammadu Buhari administration's Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI).

In December 2016, the King of Morocco, His Royal Majesty Mohammed VI, paid a two-day state visit to Nigeria. He was hosted by President Buhari, in Abuja. During the visit, the two leaders oversaw the signing of several agreements. One of these was conceived as partnership between the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria, FEPSAN and OCP, in which OCP would supply discounted phosphate to Nigeria, to help support the domestic blending of NPK Fertiliser, which started in 2017.

Also, the Moroccan government had expressed its willingness to balance trade between Nigeria and Morocco by lending a hand in its own capacity to boost Nigeria's local production initiatives, job creation and increased export opportunities. On its own part, the Sokoto state government is rest assured on OCP's reputation built over almost a century for a fair deal.

The OCP group (formerly Cherifien Office of Phosphates) was founded in August 1920. It became a limited company tagged, OCP SA in 2008. Currently, it is one of the leading exporters of phosphate fertilizers in the world. Boasting of an estimated revenue figure of $5.884 billion, and net income figure of $586.42 million for same year. The gigantic firm's foray into Sokoto is expected to boost the state's revenue profile.

The OCP projects in Africa cover the entire value chain include; the local construction of fertilizer plants, development of logistics and distribution capabilities and the development of formulas adapted for local crops and soil. And since OCP's initiatives have been known to thrive through the backing of the African Development Bank, the stage appears set for Sokoto state to be a partaker in the extensive benefits of the ripple effect.

QUOTE:

The Sokoto state government is working earnestly to pave the way for the coming of OCP to begin construction on the factory's site. As a concrete expression of the state's readiness to partner with OCP Morocco, Governor Tambuwal has allocated 10 hectares of land at Kalambaina Industrial Layout, for the Phosphate Blending Plant, with a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) issued to OCP Morocco. Being a Moroccan government-owned mega entity, OCP Morocco is expected to work closely with the state with the full understanding of the peculiarities of inter-governmental agreements, in the best interest of both parties. As the agreement is an extension of President Muhammadu Buhari administration's Presidential Fertilizer Initiative

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