ARISE IIP designs, finances, builds and operates integrated and tailor-made industrial zones with high added value. Arise IIP identifies industrial gaps in African countries that unlock value and create new industries. The aim is to industrialize key sectors by creating local transformation, maximizing production, efficiency and cost, which in turn generates local value addition. Trusted partnerships with governments and investors enable ARISE to execute large-scale projects that transform local value chains and industrialize countries in an environmentally sustainable way. Its tailor-made special economic zones in Gabon, Benin and Togo seek to boost exports, enable the local transformation of raw materials and promote trade. Mr. Vikas Budhiraja, Vice President – Marketing, Arise Textile Park & Apparels, ARISE IIP shared recent Initiatives & Investment opportunities with team Textile Focus (TF). Key discussion points are mentioned here for our readers-
TF: Please brief on Arise IIP and how it is moving forward?
Vikas Budhiraja: ARISE IIP has set itself as a trailblazing industrial ecosystem builder with activities spanning various African countries. Our primary vision is to catalyze job creation and continue our journey of improving the quality of life of communities in targeted regions through sustainably driven industrialization and strive to maintain an impact-driven growth with a core transformational value.
We take note of the natural resources currently being exported out of the African countries and put in place an ecosystem that promotes the processing of these natural resources within that country. We also look at import substitution of high-value products by encouraging importing raw materials, semi-knocked down or completely knocked down kits, and value addition within the African countries to meet the domestic requirement.
TF: How many projects you have completed in recent times?
Vikas Budhiraja: One of our prominent projects that have proven its success is our Gabon SEZ (Special Industrial Zone). The GSEZ model has rapidly grown to be one that is highly replicated across African regions as companies within the zone and their trade partners have hired close to 20,000 people (both directly and indirectly). With 3.4 million m3 produced each year, Gabon has become Africa’s leading producer and exporter of tropical plywood, and the world’s second-largest exporter. The country intends to add value to its wood products by transforming GSEZ into a centre for manufacturing “Made in Gabon” furniture by 2025. Moreover, GSEZ becomes the first carbon neutral certified Industrial zone in Africa. Such an evident success does not end there. We have also launched PIA (Plateforme Industrielle d’Atetikope) in Togo back in June 2021, which spans an impressive 400 hectares. It is strategically located in Lome with a thriving textile park providing ready plug & play infrastructure facilities for setting up integrated textile units like spinning, weaving, processing, and garments, matching the international social, environmental, and sustainability standards.
Photo (clockwise): PIA Togo; Textile Units – GDIZ Benin; Garment Training – GDIZ Benin; Garment Training – PIA Togo
TF: How did you observe the business during the pandemic?
Vikas Budhiraja: The recent COVID-19 pandemic supported the expansion of ARISE into multiple African countries because all policy and decision makers understood the pressing need for the self-sustenance of African governments, through the local transformation of locally produced commodities ( Cotton, Cashew, Soya, Wood…) rather than relying on the export of Agri -commodities for foreign exchange earnings. ARISE IPP’s commitments to facilitating this step out of dependency-geared models has and is still providing its benefits to local economies as more industrial hubs are seeing the day throughout the continent.
TF: You feedback on the African textile industry and its potentialities?
Vikas Budhiraja: Although boasting an enormous potential, the African textile industry may still require restructuring and a general streamlining of some key industrial processes. The most notable aspects that still require room to grow and which have been more and more evident as we’ve established our activity on the continent begin with missing industrial ecosystems. To fill this gap, we are ensuring control of all factors which are crucial for building a sustainable textile ecosystem. This includes Raw material availability (stored in our warehouses), Uninterrupted Power 24×7, Skilling/Training facilities, ensuring Logistics, Near-shoring, Customer-connect, Ancillaries, and finally, the implementation of long-term government policies for the zone to make it a closed loop. Furthermore, we center our activities around sustainable and compliant practices through Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) based on ZLD (zero liquid discharge) technology, raw material traceability (CMIA/BCI certified cotton), ESG practices and life cycle assessment exercises. In addition, our zones (PIA-Togo & GDIZ-Benin) allows for a range of flexible characteristics in terms of funding, including co-investment and through financial institutions for capital assets in terms of the textile value chain. Other flexibility in vertical integration options includes backward or forward integration. For our flexibility to market, this involves the local, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), or international facets.
Our partnerships with the African governments have been particularly fruitful throughout the years, and our joint efforts have led to concrete advancements in boosting local economies as well as pushing forth a sustainably driven agenda for growth.
TF: What are the supports provided by the African government to you and the investors?
Vikas Budhiraja: Our partnerships with the African governments have been particularly fruitful through all these years, and our joint efforts have led to concrete advancements in boosting local economies as well as pushing forth a sustainably driven agenda for growth. These ongoing partnerships have, undoubtedly provided us with assistance with incentives for initial skilling in terms of wage subsidy (50 percent for the first 18 months of operation). Additionally, we benefit from zero income tax, payroll tax, dividend tax, withholding tax and land tax. Duty-free imports of raw materials, machinery and accessories are also a considerable perk. Free repatriation of capital, assets & profits is also of considerable importance to foreign investors.
TF: What is the outlook of Arise IIP this year?
Vikas Budhiraja: In our outlook for this year, we are focusing our efforts on continuing to ensure easy, timely, and hassle-free boarding of textile investors in the textile zones operated by ARISE IIP in Togo and Benin. This evidently goes hand in hand with ensuring that current and new textile investors get all the benefits we commit to providing for a smooth-sailing operation. Thankfully, our textile teams deploy thorough efforts that are backed by
Experience gained from our vast and proven experience on the African continent and beyond. Over the past few years, Benin has seen an absolute boom to become the largest producer of cotton seeds in Africa. These strides on Benin’s end are the start of its upward climb. Currently reaping the benefits of strong trade agreements, this promising country has become a key location for exporting textile products, with the support of the AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) and GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) agreements for the United States as well as the EBA (Everything But Arms) and GSP for Europe. With the creation of the Glo-Djibe Industrial Zone, we aim to foster such an impressive growth of the country further.