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SME Guide

Reawakening the Giant: Tapping into Borno State’s Vast Business and Investment Potential

Borno State stands uniquely positioned to capture outsized economic growth as one of Nigeria’s most resource-rich territories. But years of instability and security threats disrupted the development of thriving modern industries. Now steady progress restoring stability is laying the foundations to unlock Borno’s massive trade and investment promise across sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, fossil fuels, and technology.

With affordable land, strong transport links to central Africa, and existing facilities ready to scale production for domestic and international markets, Borno holds all the keys required to emerge as an economic giant during Nigeria’s ongoing transformation into Africa’s next factory powerhouse and startup capital.

Read on for an in-depth analysis of top business opportunities, rising infrastructure spending, pro-enterprise policy reforms, and available local partnerships primed to fuel the state’s post-crisis revival.

Agribusiness Giants Waiting for Visionary Investors

Prior to outbreaks of conflict and terrorism hampering its globally connected economy, Borno thrived as one of Nigeria’s most productive farming regions, earning the nickname “The Nation’s Food Basket.”

Today, agriculture firmly remains the state’s dominant economic force. Ongoing efforts aim to nearly double annual sector revenues from around ₦63 billion to over ₦100 billion within the coming years.

Crops ranging from tomatoes, sesame, millet, and cowpea hold potential for transformative large-scale commercialization, raising incomes and employment for youth while meeting national demand.

The tomato processing industry is ripe for growth.

Nigeria’s booming tomato puree, paste, and processing markets offer immediate large-scale opportunities given the high margins from import substitution.

  • Current national demand is 2.45 million metric tonnes, but local production reaches only 1.8 million metric tonnes due to a lack of processing facilities.
  • Average farm yields are impressive—30 to 60 tonnes per hectare.
  • Borno farmers sold 32,000+ tonnes of fresh tomatoes in 2021, worth over ₦3 billion.

Fast-emerging tomato agro-allied industrialization strategies aim to convert the state’s bountiful tomato outputs into value-added products for national and international sales. Proven business models exist for investors seeking regional tomato sector dominance.

The tomato value chain further links with other food processing pipelines like fruit juices and ketchup production facilities.

Sesame: Black Gold Seeds With Unlimited Market Potential

A flight over Borno’s agricultural zones reveals vast golden sesame harvests dotting the landscape. As Nigeria’s largest sesame seed producer, the state sees soaring demand from overseas buyers.

  • Borno currently provides 70% of Nigeria’s 500,000 metric tonnes of annual sesame output.
  • But domestic demand is heading towards 700,000 metric tonnes annually, driven by oil mill investments.
  • Booming exports also climb 25% annually, recently topping $350 million.

Yet, despite strong yields, less than 40% of suitable agricultural land in Borno is actively farmed. Again, the huge potential remains untapped.

Sesame offers excellent nutritional value for employees. Forward-thinking businesses can foster enterprise zones with worker housing and land for subsidised cultivation of the rich protein- and antioxidant-filled crop.

Millet, Sorghum, and Cowpeas: Nutritious, Climate-Smart Cereals With Cash Buyers Waiting

Beyond major cash generators like tomato and sesame production, Borno lands readily support the cultivation of drought-resistant cereal crops. These present unique opportunities to supply national demands for products like couscous, beer, and animal feeds.

Key native cereal crops like millet, sorghum, and cowpeas can thrive despite climate change pressures. Their continuing domestic consumption and industrial uses ensure strong markets. And steady export demand adds a profit incentive.

Joint ventures with Indian or Chinese equipment providers can rapidly develop modern processing facilities for cereal starch, malt, oils, and flours.

Aquaculture Promises Sustainable Blue Growth

Abundant freshwater rivers and lakes dotting Borno State enable breeding tilapia, catfish, and prawn fisheries to expand from artisanal local sales towards meeting national supply shortages.

Nigeria’s aquaculture sector sees 25% annual growth but still falls short of meeting the local appetite for fish and seafood. Frozen imports make up the deficit.

Chinese partners offer end-to-end systems, including breeding, feeding, processing, and cold chain logistics expertise, to serve markets in Lagos and Abuja, less than 1,000km away.

Innovative recirculating aquaculture systems can utilise solar and biogas energy to lower costs while ensuring reliable production volumes.

Oil and Gas Wealth Waiting for Refining Infrastructure

Most outside observers fail to recognise Borno’s reserves of over 1 billion barrels of proven crude oil deposits and over 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.

These assets generated significant revenues for the state prior to instability disrupting fossil fuel production and refining activities. But new security has paved the way for restoration.

The federal government provides lucrative production sharing and joint venture agreements with capped tax exposure for onshore and offshore field development. Recent bid rounds offer blocks with extensive seismic surveys indicating highly promising resources.

Most importantly, underdeveloped downstream refining and gas processing infrastructure offers huge incentives. Modular mini-refinery installations can tap existing pipe networks to generate fuels, fertilisers, and associated chemicals for local use and export via Warri and Port Harcourt.

Natural gas liquids like propane, butane, and condensates accessed through limited processing offer captive power generation, feeding industrial zones and urban centres.

Lake Chad Transport Hub and Trade Corridor Revitalization

Borno’s geographic location provides multimodal transport advantages, linking Nigeria with Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and Central Africa for trade flows.

However, conflict previously hampered infrastructure connectivity and trade cooperation in the Lake Chad basin area.

Now re-energised efforts to upgrade regional road, rail, and waterway networks are expanding transnational commerce. And new special economic zones aim to leverage Borno’s location at the crossroads of West and Central African markets, nearing 600 million consumers.

Recent approval to deepen port access and customs clearance brings hope of Niger and Chad becoming vial trade partners, sending foodstuffs, textiles, and intermediary goods into Nigeria while importing fertilisers, fuels, and commercial vehicles in return.

Local partnerships are key to securing sustainable investments.

The breadth of opportunities across Borno State confirms its credibility as an investment destination. However, successful commercial ventures require both extensive local knowledge and trusted community engagement.

Strategic partnerships with reputable Borno business leaders and regional associations can ensure secure access, regulatory compliance, site acquisition, and stakeholder alignment.

We recommend investigating the following local partners:

Borno Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture

Northeast Commodity Associations

Sahel AgriBusiness Managers Ltd.

Borno Young Entrepreneurship Foundation

University of Maiduguri Centre for Entrepreneurship and Development Research

Borno Emirate

These entities provide investor introduction services, project facilitation, and access to a network of high-calibre local vendors and suppliers across sectors.

The future is bright, but the time to act is now.

In summary, abundant natural and human capital coupled with accelerating infrastructure development make Borno arguably Nigeria’s greatest untold economic success story in waiting. From tomato sauce to breweries, and sesame crops to gas-fueled modular refineries, the state holds potential for outsized investment returns.

Now is the ideal moment to stake claims in Borno’s revitalising industries through new partnerships and projects built to flourish for decades to come.

The opportunities highlighted above are just a sampling of the prospects international and domestic investors can tap across the state through careful on-the-ground diligence and close commercial cooperation with local business leaders.

Take decisive action today to secure your seat at the table as Borno awakens to claim its destiny as an African economic giant.

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