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Akin Oyebode: Ekiti Knowledge Zone Will Be the Service Centre of the West African Sub-Region

“The vision was to build an economic zone based on our heritage.”

Ekiti State Commissioner for Finance, Akintunde Oyebode, spoke to the Global Business Report about the state securing an $80 million loan from the African Development Bank to boost its Knowledge Zone which aims to attract private sector investment.

Oyebode said the vision for Ekiti Knowledge Zone began as far back as 2010 under the leadership of Gov. Kayode Fayemi. Ekiti state although nicknamed ‘Land of Honour and Integrity’ is largely referred to as the knowledge base of the nation due to its high literacy rate. 

Ekiti has the highest density of professors per capita and leads Nigeria when it comes to education and knowledge but this academic prowess has not translated into prosperity because of the migration of its best talent domestically and internationally Oyebode emphasised. 

“The vision was to build an economic zone based on our heritage, this quest to involve the AfDB began in 2019, they were so impressed with the idea that they gave us a grant of $250,000 just to do the project preparation, environmental and social impact assessment, resettlement action plan as well as the feasibility study to show that the project contributes economic value to the state. It’s not a white elephant nice to have project, we have to defend the value created from developing Ekiti Knowledge Zone”.

Oyebode disclosed that the Ekiti Knowledge Zone is tech-enabled but their emphasis is really on services, the idea here is to make Ekiti Knowledge Zone the service centre of the country and ultimately the sub-region.

On the perks of the Ekiti Knowledge Zone, Oyebode says the state’s quality Of life will be a major boost to the economic propensity of the project adding that the Ekiti Knowledge Zone is built within the concept of a 15-minute city filled with amenities comparable to major cities and offers a greener ecosystem for potential investors. Oyebode also emphasised a $5million startup fund setup for primarily startups that will be operating in Ekiti State.

On the threat the Ekiti Knowledge Zone poses to Lagos State economy, Oyebode said “If we get our National policy right, Nigeria has the unique opportunity to lead Africa in terms of the service industry, we are not challenging Lagos, we are using Ekiti to Challenge the likes of Ghana, Kenya and South Africa”.

Franklin Udosen