Wholly state-owned Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina) and Nigeria’s Swiber Africa Limited yesterday signed agreement for the construction of a $500 million agro-industrial park in Igbere, Bende Local Government Area in Abia State. The construction of the project that is christened United Integrated Agro-industrial Park, is expected to commence in January 2023, and is to straddle about five communities of Igbere, where the current Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, hails from. At the agreement signing ceremony in Abuja, Kalu who founded Swiber before his emergence as a parliamentarian, said that he would be involved in the project only in an advisory capacity since he has left Swiber to join politics. According to him, the project would be jointly funded by the Chinese multinational and Swiber. Without divulging the equity structure of the project, Kalu said that the time has come to explore other revenue sources to impact the lives of local communities and the state as oil revenue has been dwindling. He disclosed that the project would span about five communities in Igbere, including Alayi, Ugwueke, Ozuitem, Abiriba and Igbere. Kalu said that “everything produced in the industrial park will go to feeding Nigerians and for export.” Kalu, who stated that the Abia State Government was fully aware of the upcoming project, appealed to the federal government to come to the aid of the communities that would host the industrial park, assuring that “the industrial zone will create a lot of jobs, income and other economic activities.” He said: “It is a private initiative project but the state government is aware and in support of it.” In his remarks, the Chief Representative of PowerChina in Nigeria, Mr. Diego Tian, said that the project is an agriculture industrial zone, which includes crops planting and processing plants for rice, cassava, cashew nuts and related products. According to him, one or two years after takes off, the project “will highly boost Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in food security to its citizens. There will be at least 20,000 jobs opportunity to be provided for the local employee.” He added that the park would be located between Enugu and Abia States and would measure about 11,000 hectares that would create new industries around agriculture. Tian further revealed that the industrial park would have processing plants for cassava and cashew nuts and warehousing for them, adding that ethanol and starch would be produced from the cassava section. He also stated that one of the facilities to feature in the park is staff housing and administration building standing on a hectare of land, adding that power supply is planed around solar energy. “A sewage treatment plant is factored into the project. This will address processing and treatment of discharge and effluent in an environmentally safe way,” he said. Also speaking at the agreement signing ceremony, Chairman, Swiber Africa, Mr. Emeka Ebo, said that the funding for the project will be jointly executed by both partners. Power Construction Corporation of China, branded as PowerChina, is a wholly state-owned company administered by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission and part of the heavy and civil engineering construction industry.