APRIL 5, 2021
Foreign investors are set to establish a $1.4 billion agricultural project in Akwa Ibom State, which many stakeholders say will grow the state’s economy, writes COLLINS NWEZE.
How local and foreign investors see an environment depends on the state of infrastructure and incentives provided by the government.
Akwa Ibom State is gradually rising as one of the top states in the federation with increased foreign capital inflows.
The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, announced the impending $1.4 billion agricultural project to be established by foreign investors.
The project, which opens the opportunity for more investments in other key sectors of the economy, indicates that the people of Akwa Ibom State may just be about to witness more foreign investments.
The project is expected to increase employment and economic growth, enhance human resource development, increase exports of farm produce, enhance more foreign capital inflows and stimulate economic development.
In a report, the new investment attraction to the Southsouth state is linked to key infrastructure and policies that make investments to thrive.
This attraction is reflected in some of the industries operating in the state which are products of the public-private partnership (PPP) policy that is driving the administration’s industrial revolution.
The investment, Udom said cut across two countries and would turn around the agricultural sector that would gladden the hearts of the people of the state.
A Lagos-based Akwa Ibom industrial engineer, Ime Okon, said the uptick in investment in the state had not come as a surprise.
He recalled that Udom’s five-point agenda when he assumed office had industrialisation as the pivot of his administration’s economic transformation programme.
He said the governor also made industrialisation the cornerstone of the eight-point Completion Agenda of his second term.
For instance, the governor’s decision to set up a committee on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) shortly after assuming office underscored the importance he attached to investments from outside and the contributions they could make towards realising his objective of making the state an industrial hub.
“The creation of a welcoming environment through building of infrastructure and provision of incentives made investors to begin to look in the direction of Akwa Ibom barely two years into the life of the administration,” he said.
This interest manifested in the fact that at the 30thAnniversary of the creation of the state in September 2017, several industries, including a syringe manufacturing firm and an electricity metering manufacturing company, had become operational.
It is proof of the faith investors have in the changing status of Akwa Ibom that within five years – a period many states have not had up to five functional industries – over 15 industrial establishments were running full steam to stimulate economic activities and bring about improvement in the socio-economic lives of the people.
This has come through the creation of jobs and manufacturing of essential goods that are required for daily living, as well as payment of taxes.
Chief Executive Officer of Metering Solution Manufacturing Services, an indigenous company based in Onne, Akwa Ibom State, Adebisi Adeniyi, said the governor is creating the enabling environment for investments to thrive.
“What the governor in his magnanimity has done is to invite investors, give them the enabling environment in terms of providing the land, access road and by doing so, take off the youths from the streets and reduce crime,’’ Adeniyi said.
Like other unique industrial projects of the administration, the metering solutions firm is the largest in Africa, with installed capacity to produce three million electricity meters yearly working one shift.
With two shifts, it can produce six million meters yearly, and is also capable of meeting the needs of the country. The company barely manages to cope with increasing demand for its product because of its high quality, which it supplies to the Port Harcourt, Eko and Kano electricity distribution companies, and also exports to Liberia and The Gambia.
The governor’s focus on developing the three major gateways into Akwa Ibom air, land and sea – is what is going to give significant boost to his industrialisation efforts.
He set up Ibom Air, the first state government-owned airline in the country, to open up the skies for potential investors from within and outside the country. The airline’s operations have significantly increased the number of flights that go in and out of the state daily, with impact on the state economy through visitors in search of investment opportunities as well as leisure.
The administration has stepped up efforts to build road infrastructure, to make all parts of the state easily accessible to visitors.
When completed, the Ibom Deep Sea Port is expected to be the game changer. A project for which the Federal Government is partnering the state, the deep seaport would serve as a major gateway through the Gulf of Guinea and enhance maritime trade in the entire region, with significant boosT to the economy of state.
In the centre of Uyo, the state capital, a 21-storey office complex expected to provide space for investors is nearing completion.The structure is the first of its kind in the entire eastern and underscores the administration’s commitment to achieving its industrialisation targets.
Analysts said the changing industrial fortunes of Akwa Ibom would impact on the standard of living of the people. It would stimulate the level of economic activities expected to create jobs, wealth and alleviate poverty.
SOURCE: THE NATION