• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Europe-Africa Business corridor to diversify Nigeria’s economy, boost intercontinental integration – Italian team


The World Bank-backed plan to build a business corridor between Europe and Africa from Sicily in Italy through Tunisia, Nigeria to Cape Town in South Africa, would not only crash the cost of doing business in Africa and spike the growth of African economies, it is Nigeria’s best hope to shift away from an oil-dependent economy.

According to a team from Italy now in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to mobilise support for the project, it is when the economy is down that serious efforts must be made to expand the legs of the economy. The Business Corridor would create physical, economic and cultural bridges from Italy to South Africa. it would also form, an energy highway to boot power supply and boost agriculture.

What is now known as the Europe-Africa Business Corridor was conceived by a team of Italian engineers and architects including two professors, Enzo Siviero and Nicola Monda who arrived Port Harcourt on Monday and help a business launch on Tuesday, 19 January 2016, at the Hotel Presidential with 50 carefully selected top business and government leaders.

The business launch was aimed at educating the Port Harcourt business group through the Rivers State Entrepreneurs and Investors Forum (REIF) to hook unto the huge project and to begin a conscious drive to push Port Harcourt to global business limelight through the private sector approach.

Declaring the floor open, REIF’s president, Ibifiri Bobmanuel, said the Business Corridor would open Africa up into Europe by road and rail and crash the cost of moving goods to Africa and raw materials to Europe. The project may open to Asia and create a tripartite highway from Europe to Africa and Asia, a prospect that would tap the potentials of the three continents where there is hitech (Europe), skills (Asia) and manpower and natural resources which would interact to create a new economic force.

Speaking, the engineering professor, Monda, said the infrastructure to be created along the business corridor would spike business growth along the route from Sicily (Italy) to Capte Town (South Africa). He said the engineers that designed the Corridor and the bridges along the route have hooked up with the African Society of Engineers for participation, saying 90 groups (20 from Africa) have signed on to the initiative.

He said the fact that a Nigerian engineer is the current head of the ASE made the Italians to head to Nigeria to start building the network.

He talked about building both physical and cultural bridges between Europe and Africa, saying Africa was not only the new frontier but the origin of man. He said this new relationship would not be about colonisation but about helping Africa to bring out its inner will power and resources to play at equal level with Europe.

In his presentation, Siviero, an architect and engineer, said port Harcourt was the right place to start the campaign because of what he called a zeal to rise fast. He said though Lagos was the number one economy and Abuja the political capital, that Port Harcourt offered a zone with lighter traffic and huge resources to grow big.

He said Port Harcourt must develop the new models that Nigeria and Africa must copy, and urged Nigeria to demonstrate capacity to lead Africa. He said though the entire project looked huge but it was broken down to smaller units to allow each on the corridor to take up its own projects that would form the whole.

The REIF president said the coming of the Italians would also offer new opportunities to Port Harcourt businesses as some of the engineers have agreed to design delicate bridges free of charge for the Rivers State government.

He said the aim of the business launch was to create new models of diversification and seek partnerships with credible international groups to save the Nigerian economy, and said a blueprint would be sent to the federal and state governments.