The World Bank states that Cross River State is one of the best places to do business in Nigeria. After doing your business, it has the best places for you to relax. A tourist haven.
Located in Southeastern Nigeria, it has a population of over three million people, a per capita of over $3,200, and a GDP of about $12 billion. Blessed with a long coastline, abundant water resources, an international airport and rich arable land, Cross River State is primed for an industrial revolution.
One of the most articulate promoters of investments in Cross River State is Obioma Liyel Imoke. A quiet, dignified and charismatic figure, she is quickly becoming the shining light of Cross River State. Humble, polite and without the unnecessary pomposity that surrounds Nigerian officials, she knows how to keep time, and apologises when she is late. With the vision of Margaret Ekpo, the steely reserve of Indira Gandhi and the populism of Eva Peron, she is certainly a woman of the people and of the future. Her organisation, POWER, is gradually becoming a powerhouse for social transformation and social justice. Devoid of personal aggrandisement, she speaks with passion about helping vulnerable people, forging partnerships with relevant organisations and attracting investments to her state. However, not all investments are welcome. According to the first lady, Cross River State needs investments that are people-friendly, practical and are suitable to the climatic conditions of the state.
What makes the first lady and Governor Liyel Imoke unique is their understanding of the pre-eminent role the diaspora can play in the development of the state. In this regard, they are following the examples of China, South Korea and India whose diaspora were instrumental in their industrial and technological take-off. While Dung Tsiao Ping articulated the four modernisations in China, the Chinese diaspora brought the necessary ingredients to make it work. The Cross River State government believes the diaspora can do the same for the state and has created an office of Diaspora Affairs to co-ordinate these efforts.
For any potential investor in the state, the list of sectors to invest in are endless: agriculture, information technology, gas exploration, food processing, household goods, software development, water resources, security, power and energy, including solar and other alternative forms of energy. The state is also rich in minerals, such as limestone, gold, graphite, kaolin, etc.
The state is also a tourist haven and welcomes investments in tourism. The world-famous Obudu Ranch and Resort and the Tinapa Business Resort are all located in the state. The annual Calabar Carnival has been called “Africa’s largest street party”. In terms of security, it is the safest state in Nigeria and its capital, Calabar, is the cleanest city in Nigeria. Most importantly, it is a state that has a zero tolerance policy towards religious bigotry and ethnic chauvinism.
As a gateway to Christian evangelisation and proselytisation, the state is predominantly Christian. Secular and religious institutions dot the landscape. The University of Calabar and the Cross River State University are some of the leading institutions of higher education in the state. Foreign partnerships with these and other educational institutions in the state are welcome. Language is no barrier, as English is the language of business.
Next, when you think of investing in Nigeria, try Cross River State first.
Madu, a Fox TV analyst, is president of the African Caribbean
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