In the efforts of Governor Bello Matawalle’s administration to rebuild the State's economy and provide abundant opportunities for teeming populace of Zamfara State, the administration signed an agreement with Africa Export-Import Bank for an investment of $1 billion into the State's economy. The agreement covers areas including construction of a cargo airport, hotels, establishment of textiles, ginneries, and rehabilitation of rail lines. Gladly, some of these projects, like the airport and hotels, have already started and the remaining would commence in the coming months insha Allah.
Despite the enormous potentials of our State in agriculture and solid minerals, we are still grappling with the challenge of adequately harnessing and transforming these sectors in tune with our development needs. Agriculture, which is the primary activity of the people, has largely remained for self-subsistence, and the technique of production is primarily crude and premodern. Equally, the mining sector is dominated by the activities of artisanal miners who also rely on crude tools for mineral exploration. It was this practice that accounted for the lead poisoning disaster, which was discovered in 2010.
Also in the effort of the administration to explore the state’s mining potentials, Governor Matawalle embarked on contacts within and outside the country to attract investment of foreign capital into the sector. He visited the United Nations during its 2019 General Assembly, where he met with some potential investors at the sidelines of the meeting, who are willing to invest in Zamfara State. He also attended a conference in Sochi, Russia, where many investors have equally expressed their willingness to invest in Zamfara State. He also visited China, where he participated in the Forum on Mining Development Policy and Regulation Research. During the forum, many investors signalled their readiness to invest in Zamfara State's mining sector.
Consequently, the governor met Mr President and made a case for the lifting of the ban on mining so as to allow the prospective investors have the opportunity to invest in the State and complement the efforts to diversify the nation's economy. Already, the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has begun preparations to issue Small-scale and Artisanal Mining Licenses to 70,000 artisanal miners across the State, as a definite step to formalise their activities. Similarly, plans are under way to establish a centre for buying and disposal of gold commodity in Gusau. The centre would provide both gold buyers and merchants the opportunity to interact based on the laid down rules as contained in the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act as well as the Mining Regulations.
As agriculture remains the mainstay of Zamfara State's economy, the government is making efforts to transform it by making it an all-year-round activity that goes beyond meeting the subsistence needs of the farmers. Within the first 100 days of Bello Matawalle’s administration, the Zamfara State Fertilizer Blending Plant, which was not operational for many years, was resuscitated. Under cotton development programme, the administration has also dedicated 100,000 hectares for cotton cultivation to associations of cotton farmers, and 10,000 hectares to a private company that has agreed to invest in cotton production in the State. Similarly, arrangements are in the final stage to engage 35,000 cotton farmers under the CBN funded Anchor Borrower Programme.
As part of the efforts to prop up the economy of the state and guarantee the economic and social wellbeing of the people now and in the future, Governor Bello Matawalle’s administration established Zamfara Gold Reserve, the first of its kind by any state in the federation.
At the launch of the reserve in October 2020, the governor announced that the state has purchased 31 kilogrammes of gold, wholly mined and refined by our artisanal miners for a start.