Investors say there is investment potential in the $2.1 billion Enugu State government’s critical developmental projects, stressing, however, that the state must put in place critical success factors to bolster investors’ interest and confidence.
The investors who spoke at the state’s maiden Investment Roundtable with the theme ‘Leveraging private public partnership’, listed the credibility of off-takers, credit guarantees, transparent procurement guarantees, derisked and bankable projects among others as some of the success factors.
The investors with backgrounds across sectors- energy, oil and gas, agriculture, infrastructure, education, among others, also advised that there must be strong political will on the part of the government and the state governor.
“The governor has to be brave and courageous enough to go against bad financial advisory and fears coming from the political circle,” Emeka Ene, managing director, oil data, advised, stressing that the state must also be courageous to mobilise capital for partners and derisk projects.
Ene, who was a panelist at the event, further advised that the state government has to reform the policy environment to make the state attractive, stressing that governance has to drive investment by being courageous.
Fola Fagbule, head, financial advisory services at Africa Finance Corporation, noted that to do agric business, the state has to be competitive and should be able to identify its areas of comparative advantage, explaining that there may not be enough land for grazing in which the state has to seek collaboration with neighbouring states.
Kelvin Urama, chief economics and vice president at African Development Bank, also noted that what drives large-scale projects such as the one Enugu is undertaking were counterpart funding, global outsourcing of funding, ease of doing business in terms of good land administration, ease of getting construction permit, etc.
“You should make the state bankable by having political will, large human capital, innovation to do things differently, transparent procurement to create confidence in investors and ensure risk guarantees,” he said.
Earlier in his keynote address, Peter Mbah, the governor of the state, had highlighted the opportunities which the state offers investors with its high-value pipeline projects that cut across agriculture and agro-allied industrialisation, energy and mineral resources.
Others are transportation and logistics, ICT, creative industries, tourism, and hospitality which are among the priority sectors identified in the State’s Integrated Sector-Based Productivity Growth Plan, and will therefore, be supported by the expansion of urban and rural infrastructure.
He added that the state would prioritise industrialisation as a key objective to be achieved through development and participation in regional value chains, investment facilitation and export promotion, and financing for industrialisation, infrastructure development, trade facilitation and logistics.
“In agriculture, the state will prioritise the development of special agro-allied industrial zones to drive the modernisation and productivity of our key agricultural product value chains, drive value addition, increase our export potential, and create rural jobs,” he said.
In energy, he assured investors that the state would develop its natural gas fields and quicken investments in clean energy sources like biogas, solar, wind, and hydropower to power important public institutions including universities, colleges, hospitals and health centres and government offices.
Realising that capital goes where it is safe, Mbah said that the state was making efforts to ensure Enugu was safe. “We’ve improved security across the state and currently working with my colleagues in the other southeast states to strengthen our security strategy,” he said.
Mbah believed that the private sector drives the economy which is why, he explained, the theme of the roundtable was chosen to reflect that belief. “We are therefore inviting the private sector to come and be part of our development strides that will enable us grow the state’s GDP from the current $4.4 billion to $30 billion in the next eight years,” he said.
“This vision emphasises inclusive economic growth and sector competitiveness, sustainable economic, social, and environmental resilience for all citizens, and the restoration of peace and security for people, property, and critical economic and social processes,” he added.
Mbah assured that his administration would pursue a three-pronged strategy to boost sector productivity, reform key state institutions, and create cross-cutting social sector programmes and services.