BusinessDay

New port, security, industrialisation – Akwa Ibom makes case for investments

Akwa Ibom is banking on its new deep sea port under construction, free trade zones that offers favourable tax terms and low crime rate and to convince investors that it is a choice destination for investments.

Gabriel Ukpeh, chairman, Akwa Ibom State Technical Committee on Foreign Direct Investments, during the French Week 2021 Economic Summit, urged investors to take advantage of the state government’s industrialisation effort.

Speaking on the theme, Nigerian Foreign Exchange and the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria, Ukpeh said, “Akwa Ibom has a lot of firsts and competitive advantages in the South-South region of the country. Participants have expressed concerns about bottlenecks at the port, bringing in goods, change of policies, exporting items, utilities such as power supply, these are things that Akwa Ibom is out to solve.

“With the deep-sea port, you don’t have any issues bringing in your goods; at our Free Trade Zone, import duties are not there. Akwa Ibom has an excellent road network, the best in the country. It makes sense to have someone who has a vision steering the ship in the person of Udom Emmanuel, who is gradually transforming the state into an investors’ haven.”

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He added, “In terms of security, Akwa Ibom is the state with the lowest crime rate in the country. There is a heavy investment in security. As we speak, there is a company in Israel that is outfitting Uyo Capital Territory in what is called a Safe City.

“Quite a number of you know that Akwa Ibom has the largest reserves of oil and gas in the country, so anything in the area of refineries, petrochemical plants, ammonia plants, methanol plants, power generation plants are welcome.

“The bigger advantage we have is that we have the largest Free Trade Zone in the country. You don’t have to worry about foreign exchange because it provides a tax haven to allow investors to reap value from their investment. We also have a deep-sea port for investors, who want to move their goods to countries other than Nigeria. We have a shipbuilding base with a company from Singapore already investing in it. We are also investing in tourism, air transport and others.”

In the area of oil and gas, agriculture, tourism, and aviation. Ukpeh said that the Akwa Ibom State Government is investing heavily in these areas, “Akwa Ibom has the largest reserve of oil and gas in the country, so that is an opportunity for investors to explore for oil and gas and other essential resources for power generation, refineries, etc.

“Akwa Ibom also boasts of a large expanse of arable land which is very rich for the cultivation of a variety of food and cash crops, one of the Smartest office complexes for official usage, a large expanse of beach for lovers of tourism, and so many other things numerous to mention”.

Also speaking at the event, Adeniyi Adebayo, minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, said apart from Akwa Ibom, Nigeria is making progress in improving ease of doing business to attract investment. This is why it is named among the top ten most improved economies in the world.

Nigeria has been France’s leading trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, ranking the fifth largest trading partner. In a bid to strengthen the trade relationship between the two countries, the French Embassy held its 2021 Economic Summit.

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