Bonny town, a major oil and gas terminal in Nigeria, located in Rivers State, has unveiled an economic roadmap highlighted by a non-oil/gas free trade zone, a five-star hotel, and international conference centre that must come into view in the next three years.
The island is host to many oil company terminals as well as the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) headquarters, which has rolled out a $10 billion Train-7 project that would increase the NLG capacity of Nigeria by 35 percent.
The Bonny Economic Roadmap floated by the Bonny Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (BOCCIMA) is expected to drive the listed projects in the next three years to steer the island away from non-oil investments, but still maximise opportunities in the oil/gas industry.
An investment road-show is lined up to attract investors and financiers to the many projects lined up in the roadmap.
Unveiling the roadmap at the first quarterly retreat of the BOCCIMA tagged ‘Bony Beyond Oil & Gas,’ Amairigha Edward Hart, president of Bonny Chambers, listed as number one the proposed non-oil industrial free trade zone that would house infrastructure facilities such as commercial and residential areas. It would also house an international conference centre, a five-star hotel, tax free shopping centre, educational research centre, industrial zone and the proposed Marina Resort.
Hart also mentioned the commercial ferry and cargo services scheme already named ‘Asimini Line’ that would offer marine, land and sea transportation with hospitality and tourism components as another key economic project under way. It already has a partnership with ‘Sealink Consortium Partners,’ a national inland waterways project powered by NEXIM Bank.
As plastics waste menace threatens Bonny Island from the body of water surrounding it, BOCCIMA has lined up a waste-to-wealth project to save the island from wastes that do not have an easy outlet.
There would also be a BOCCIMA Business School that would help develop capacity for business persons and entrepreneurs on the island. The road-show to attract investors into Bonny would be tagged “Bonny Beyond Oil & Gas.”
The BOCCIMA president told participants at the retreat at the Hotel Presidential at the weekend that: “Bonny is set to become an economic and energy epicentre in the West African hemisphere. It is also destined to emerge as one of the most diversified regional economies, providing a treasure-trove of economic opportunities.
“The Island will be propelled not only by oil and gas but by other sectors including manufacturing, knowledge services, health services, digital technology, agriculture, tourism, and aquaculture. These sectors will complement the traditional sectors which are being modernised and which will retain their role as economic mainstays.”
He said this dynamic transformation would be driven principally by the private sector; “Local and foreign businesses, working in tandem and sometimes in partnership, will act as the main drivers of economic output, efficiency and competitiveness.”
Speaking before the start of the session, the director-general of BOCCIMA, Constance Nwokejiobi, said the time for talk and time for planning were over, saying it was now time for action, starting the next day after the retreat.
She commended the NLNG for sponsoring the retreat she said gave Bonny entrepreneurs the opportunity to train and plan the economic way forward. Most council members who spoke commended the leadership of BOCCIMA and the NLNG for making the retreat a success, and said it had equipped them to take constructive positions in the economy of the island.
The two-day retreat brought experts to make economic and investment presentations that the council members said opened their eyes.
The first female local council chairman for Bonny Local Government Area, Anengi Wilcox, was present all through the two days. White Pepple, chairman, Bonny Kingdom Local Content Committee (BKLCCC), as well as Igo Weli of Shell (who was represented by Gbodo Otikidi, the community relations officer of SPDC in Bonny) were some of the resource persons that treated the council members to rich presentations.
Others include Ifeyinwa Nwankpa, the Rivers State commissioner of trade and commerce; Emi Membere-Otaji, the national vice president, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), and bank managers.
BOCCIMA leadership used the retreat opportunity to create trade groups and assign leaders to them so they can hit the ground running.