In the plan to walk away from oil economy any moment from now, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says it hopes to build the Silicone Valley concept in the nine states.
The Commission is also set to push for an agric economy to be based on agricultural revolution.
For a start, the Commission is to work in collaboration with other relevant agencies to reduce cost of production in the region by establishing an industrial park in each state of the nine Niger Delta states.
The oil region is perceived to pose the highest cost of production in Nigeria, thereby discouraging productivity in the Niger Delta while promoting consumption.
Now, the NDDC wants to turn the table and beat down costs by creating an industrial parks in each state of the catchment areas. The NDDC is to achieve this in collaboration with the Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone Authority (OGFTZA).
The NDDC Managing Director, Samuel Ogbuku, made the commitment during a courtesy visit by a delegation from the OGFTZA, led by its Managing Director, Tijani Kaura, at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Ogbuku noted that industrial parks occupy a strategic position in sustainable development value chain because of their multiplier effects.
He said: “Partnering to have an oil and gas free trade zone park would achieve a lot. It will reduce the cost of production in the industries and enterprises that we intend to attract to the Niger Delta region. It will also promote entrepreneurship.”
He said further: “Having industries in one park comes with a lot of advantages for both the companies and the people of the region. We need industrialisation in the region in order to create job opportunities for our youths and women.”
Ogbuku said he was confident that partnering with OGFTZA in this direction would promote investment and economic development for creating wealth and employment in the Niger Delta region.
He observed that working with different organisations for development purposes had been very successful, noting: “It only proves that our quest for partnership, which has been our core policy focus, is working. On assumption of office, we realized that due to the dwindling funds, it would be very difficult for us to actualise the desired development of the Niger Delta region on our own.”
According to him: “The Niger Delta is in dire need of development. NDDC, being the vehicle that drives development in the region, must not depend on only one source for funds. Over the years, we have depended on contributions from the Federal Government and International Oil Companies (IOCs) as our only means for driving development. Right now, we believe partnering with corporate bodies and government agencies will fast-track and accelerate development in the Niger Delta region.”
The NDDC boss stated that the Commission was looking beyond the era of oil and gas. “We are tilting towards agriculture and information technology. So, we need to provide the necessary facilities and incorporate a technology hub in the industrial park for IT experts in the region. This will encourage various technology-based organisations to set up in the Niger Delta. We are looking at a future Silicone Valley in the Niger Delta region.”
Speaking earlier, the Managing Director of the OGFTZA, Kaura, noted that both the NDDC and OGFTZA occupy strategic positions in driving sustainable development in the Niger Delta region, thus the need to work together. He stressed the need for collaboration between the NDDC and OGFTZA in the establishment of industrial parks.
He remarked that industrial parks would accelerate development in the Niger Delta region.
Kaura called for the setting up of a technical committee to work out the details of the partnership between the NDDC and OGFTZA on the Industrial Parks initiative.
Meanwhile, the NDDC has pledged to support young entrepreneurs in the region through targeted skill development initiatives to promote sustainable development.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by a delegation from the Coalition of South-South Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (COSSCCIMA), the MD/CEO (Ogbuku), stressed the importance of building a comprehensive data-base for youth empowerment.
Ogbuku stated that the registration of the Niger Delta Chamber of Commerce being championed by the NDDC was not intended to challenge the efforts of COSSCCIMA but to extend the reach of the NDDC’s programme of empower the people of the Niger Delta region through entrepreneurial schemes.
He assured that the Niger Delta Chamber of Commerce would not undermine COSSCCIMA activities.
“Whatever we are all doing will be promoting commerce and industry as well as entrepreneurship in the Niger Delta region.”
The NDDC boss said that the Commission was developing an exhaustive digital repository comprising vital information about the youths of the Niger Delta region, including their qualifications, skills, interests, needs, and current employment status.
Speaking earlier, the President of the Coalition of South-South Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, COSSCCIMA, Okon Emah, stated that the trade group was well positioned to collaborate with the NDDC as the members were spread across the six states of the South-South region.