The industrialisation policy of Governor Akpabio’s administration is anchored on government supporting the establishment of at least one cottage industry in each of the 31 local government areas of the state, under public private partnership (PPP) model.
The goals of the industrial programme of government are to generate employment, reduce poverty and enhance skills development and wealth creation throughout the state. The key strategy adopted for the execution of this policy has been the establishment of the industrial fund that is meant to offer soft loans to local entrepreneurs interested in setting up industries.
In order to achieve the set objective, the Akwa Ibom Investment and Industrial Promotion Council
(AKIIPOC) has been reinvigorated under the chairmanship of Senas J. Ukpanah, who is also the special adviser to the governor on investment and industrialisation.
With his wealth of experience as a technocrat and management consultant, Ukpanah is working to achieve the purpose of industrialisation in the state. This is because the governor believes that industrialisation is the key to socio-economic transformation process, and coupled with the rich natural endowment found in the various parts of the state, there is need to tap such resources to diversify the economy from total dependence on crude oil, as the state is one of the largest oil producing states in the country.
Within the short period of its operations, AKIIPOC has put in place the necessary machinery to enhance the actualisation of the industrialisation agenda of the state. To start with, AKIIPOC has been restructured into Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation (AKICORP) to ensure greater effectiveness and efficiency, since the functions of the former AKIIPOC were so broad and unwieldy. The new corporation therefore serves as a special purpose vehicle to drive the industrialisation programme of the state.
This step has been followed by the development of industrialisation roadmap to serve as a guide
in the industrialisation process. General preconditions for sustainable industrial take-off have been identified, while entrepreneurship capacity building and strengthening of the organised private sector has been undertaken to boost local entrepreneurs to the path of industrialisation destination. Crucially too, there has been the evaluation of business proposals from industrialists who have indicated interest to set up their industries; and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Akwa Ibom State government and Bank of Industry (BoI) for the provision of industrial fund had been signed. The the state is to deposit N2.5 billion while the BoI is also to match it with another N2.5 billion, pooling a total sum of N5 billion to provide soft loans for local entrepreneurs at single-digit interest rate; and the establishment of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) advisory unit to provide technical and management advisory services.
Consequently upon these innovations, history was made on May 27, 2013, when a MoU was signed between the state government and Greenwell Technologies Limited, a US-based company, for the establishment of four industries at Oku Abak, Abak LGA.
They include the construction, installation and manufacturing of aluminium sulphate, fertiliser/blending, animal feed and poultry processing facility. The projects which are to be completed in four phases will commence with the manufacturing of aluminium sulphate.
By way of reviewing this epoch making event, it would be recalled that the executive chairman of the Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation, Senas J. Ukpanah, commissioner for
agriculture and natural resources, Godwin Afangide, and the attorney general and commissioner for justice, Ekpenyong Ntekim signed the MoU on behalf of the state, while the chairman/CEO of Greenwell Technologies Limited, Robert Chandler, together with the vice chairman, Johnny S. Udoh signed the MoU on behalf of the company.
The commissioner information, Aniekan Umanah, his lands counterpart, Obong Eno Akpan, the special adviser on technical matters, Etido Inyang, the representative of the organised private sector, Okon Emah, among other dignitaries witnessed the event.
Fittingly, Ukpanah had described the event as a major stride in the government’s quest to industrialise the state under PPP. He expressed optimism that the projects, when completed, would create a substantial impact on the economy of the State, by providing jobs and creating wealth for the citizenry.
This optimism, Ukpanah can hardly be misplaced, considering as he also said that Akwa Ibom
remains the safest and most fertile land for foreign investors because of the enabling environment of good infrastructure, effective security network, and abundant natural resources. On his part, the commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, Afangide had remarked that his ministry was committed to lifting agriculture beyond its present subsistence level, in-line with the
state government’s vision for the agric sub-sector.
Speaking on that occasion also, the CEO of Greenwell Technologies, Robert Chandler had justifiably expressed happiness that the company was establishing its presence in Akwa Ibom State, and said that the firm was set to commence operations so that the first two phases could be ready by the end of the year.
The total project cost has been given as N750 million, excluding the cost of the raw material at Onne, Rivers State, and other start-up cost. Of this amount, Ecobank has agreed to provide N600 million as loan to fund the project with Akwa Ibom State government serving as the guarantor. The shareholding structure of the company is 90 percent for Greenwell Technologies and 10 percent for the state government.
Greenwell Technologies is an incorporated limited liability company under the Companies and Allied Matters Act to carry on the business of manufacturing of aluminium sulphate and allied products. The company is in partnership with C&S Chemicals of Georgia and CEJ Enterprises of South Carolina, all in the US.
Clearly, the deal which brings the Greenwell Technologies to Abak should be seen as the first fruit of the state government’s labour on industrial promotion.
Akpan Ukem, AKICORP’s public relations officer, wrote in from Uyo
Send reactions to: