Foreign companies are making serious inquiries on how to move down to Egi, a community in Rivers State where Total (E&P) has operated successfully for decades. This is as Egi has unveiled its first trade fair which began on April 13, 2013.
The push comes from Total which says it wants its host community to compete favourably in businesses and to rub shoulders with other oil communities around the world. The managing director, Guy Maurice, said this much weekend when the Egi SME and Investment Fair kicked off in Obite town.
Egi is in Ogba/Ndoni/Egba Local Council (Onelga) area of Rivers State and is described as the only community in Nigeria that has without fighting and killing themselves mobilised resources that accrue from their relationship with an oil company (Total).
BusinessDay gathered at the weekend that the effort has not only led to the building of a factory (Glo Print Factory) that produces polythene bags, it is set to set up first ever community-owned radio station in Nigeria. The efforts are anchored by the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce (PHCCIMA) which is pursuing a policy of decentralisation and empowerment of communities to form business clusters in Rivers State.
Speaking at the PHCCIMA headquarters on Azikiwe Road, the president-general of the Egi Peoples Assembly, Oris Onyiri, said the bag making company has a huge market it is striving to serve.
He said: “We came up with a vision that every Egi man is equal. And every Egi man has the benefit of whatever that comes from Egi. And for this reason, we have organised ourselves – the traditional institutions, the youths, women and all the stakeholders together to drive this process of development. One day, you will see Egi coming to what we call industrial hub”.
According to him, “We know that the little we are doing here is attracting people all over the world as they read about it. People come from America, China, etc to know if they can invest in our land. We have assured them that we will provide enabling environment. And I tell you, in the next two years, Egi land would host a company which Egi itself has a substantial equity that would be the first ever in West Africa that would produce a rare commodity. It is Total (E&P) that is driving it. Egi made a proposal to have what we call Sombreiro University and last week, a group came from Dallas to partner with Egi people to invest in that university”.
The leader said every person did not have to reside in the city to do business or wait for his state capital to develop before investing in the communities. “Go home, organise your people, garner support from each other to develop your community. We don’t need to live in Port Harcourt to work or to do business. In less than 30 minutes you can come to Port Harcourt and vise versa if we have a good road and good means of transport”.