• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Egypt intra-African trade fair and Abiodun’s take-homes

Ogun, Delta to meet with labour as Oborevwori sets up review committee

In furtherance of his sustained efforts to attract Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) into Ogun State to enhance its industrial capacity, Governor Dapo Abiodun recently took his campaigns to Cairo, Egyptian capital to woo prospective business entrepreneurs to make the state their investment destination of choice while considering investing in Nigeria.

Due to the myriad of socio-economic challenges facing the country, the present government has come to recognise Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) as an alternative means of financing the construction of new infrastructure and the creation of jobs for the teeming unemployed youths. Like President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has been leading the charge since he assumed office, the Governor has been relentlessly making all efforts to make the state attractive to investors by creating an enabling environment for businesses through infrastructure development.

This is realizing that attracting investment into an economy without the necessary infrastructure and access to reliable power would be a mere wishful thinking. Therefore, he used the auspicious occasion of the Intra-African Trade Fair, put together by Afreximbank, in Cairo, Egypt, to showcase the infrastructure potential, access to power, and youthful and educated population that make the state investor-friendly.

While speaking as a guest on CNBC Africa at the weekend on the sidelines of the trade fair event, he said he had everything in place to host any business venture in Ogun State. His words: “We like to refer to ourselves as the Gateway State. We are the gateway to Nigeria’s prosperity. We are the industrial capital of Nigeria. By all accounts, we have well over 5,000 industries. We are the number one in non-oil revenue in Nigeria because we have large mineral deposits, particularly limestone.

“That explains why we have Lafarge, Dangote, and many other cement factories. The biggest cement factory in Nigeria is in Ogun State.

“Now, why are we here (Cairo)? We are here to attract more investors to our state, particularly as we pride ourselves on having the required infrastructure, be it road, rail, or air. We have a new airport, unarguably one of the best airports in Nigeria.

“Our airport is situated in our Special Economic Processing Zone. The zone is being supported by AfrexImbank and being operated and constructed by a private sector player called Arise LLP.

“Today, we want people to know about the zone, to come and establish processing concerns and factories in that zone, referencing the 5,000 other industrial activities in Ogun State.”

For the benefit of cynics and pessimists, who have poor knowledge of investment and how it contributes to the economy, contrary to the criticism against the Governor’s routine investment tours, Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) serves as a source of capital, generating employment, facilitating access to foreign markets, and generating both technological and efficiency spillovers to local firms, among others”.

Investment is a key factor that determines economic progress in both developed and developing economies. Nigeria requires substantial investment in promoting and enhancing economic activities that guarantee better living conditions for the Nigerians. Foreign investment can foster and maintain economic growth, in both the recipient country and the country making the investment.

The main sectors attracting investment inflows into Nigeria include oil and gas (by far the largest recipient), telecommunications, manufacturing, real estate, and agriculture. Ogun State combines the advantages of manufacturing and agriculture as a major attraction.

While citing the presence of industrial giants like Lafarge, Nestle, Cadbury, May&Baker, Unilever, and Olam flours, among others, as leading manufacturing, the governor also hinted that companies willing to invest in the state would take advantage of its vast agro-produce like rubber, cassava, which Ogun is the number one producer in the world, palm oil, cashew, cocoa, cotton, eggs and poultry.

“We are trying to attract investors to this processing zone, more so because we have gas, which allows them to access power. So, you are sure that your major cost of production, which could be power in most instances, is already mitigated.

“And I believe that we’ve managed to convince a lot of our listeners that Ogun State, the industrial capital of Nigeria, the education capital of Nigeria with reserve of youthful population is ready to receive you and as a government, we’ve provided a lot of reforms and policy initiatives to further increase our rating on the ease of doing business index,” he added.

Governor Abiodun also spoke on the significance of the African Quality Assurance Centre (AQAC), which had been established at the Special Economic Processing Zone. This development, he said, was bound to make Nigeria get value for her agro-produce.

Prince Abiodun noted that Nigeria, before now, was sending her agro-produce meant for export to neighbouring countries like Ghana to be certified as fit-for-purpose. But with AQAC in Ogun State, and within the agro-processing zone, Prince Abiodun declared that agro-produce from Nigeria can now be certified fit-for-purpose in line with world best practices.

“And now, what they do in AQAC is, they don’t wait until you have grown or you have harvested. They intervene from the point of your inputs, from the point of how you have planted, from what type of fertilisers you have used, from what type of fertilisers you were meant to use to ensure that by the time they are stamping your agro-produce, it is certified fit-for-purpose.

“Hitherto, when goods will have to go to Ghana or any other country to be exported, it means that those agro-produce would probably have been undervalued. So, from now on, Nigeria can now export its agro-produce at the right value because it’s stamped fit-for-purpose from Nigeria,” he enthused.

It is particularly heart-warming to note that Ogun State is among the four (4) states that have been elected to benefit from the N500 billion Support Fund packaged by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in conjunction with Access Bank.

Governor Abiodun made the disclosure in Cairo while speaking at the end of the Trade Fair put together by Afreximbank, adding that the fund would be helpful in financing and accelerating infrastructural development in the state. According to him, the state government has already signed the framework agreement. This agreement, he said, “will play a pivotal role in financing the creation of trade and trade-enabling infrastructure.”

Hear from the horse’s mouth: “The highlight of our participation at the IATF was the signing of a significant framework agreement with Afreximbank and Access Bank Limited. “This agreement grants us access to a substantial amount of N500 billion in conjunction with three other Nigerian states.

“This financial support will play a pivotal role in financing the creation of trade and trade-enabling infrastructure. Its purpose is to accelerate economic diversification through infrastructure development, in line with the Africa Sub-Sovereign Network Initiative.”

The governor explained that the Ogun State team had met with the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, and the Malawian President, Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, during which issues of mutual benefits had been discussed with the two leaders.

He disclosed that the discussions with the Zimbabwean President centred on collaboration in the agricultural sector, adding that the groundwork for the establishment of a partnership between the two governments had already been laid.

“We firmly believe that this collaboration will contribute significantly to the growth and development of our state, paving the way for a brighter economic future.

“By harnessing the potential of the agricultural sector and fostering strategic partnerships, we are confident that we can make significant advancements towards achieving our goals,” he added.

Read also: Abiodun woos foreign investors to Ogun

The intra-African Trade Fair held under the auspices of Dr. Benedict Okey Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) marked a significant milestone in the Abiodun administration’s effort to open Ogun State to Direct Foreign Investment inflows.

Back at home in the state, Governor Abiodun narrated his experience with a great sense of fulfilment, declaring that the Fair ended on a positive note for the state. “We are pleased to inform you that it concluded on a positive note for our dear state. During the fair, we were honoured to engage in a productive meeting with His Excellency, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, and the President of Zimbabwe.

The focus of our discussion revolved around exploring avenues for collaboration, particularly in the agricultural sector. We laid the groundwork for establishing a partnership between the Government of Zimbabwe and the Ogun State Government.

“Additionally, we had the pleasure of meeting with His Excellency, Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of Malawi. Our discussions centred around establishing a collaboration between Malawi and our esteemed state with the aim of fostering a mutually beneficial socio-economic relationship,” he stated.

Ogbonnikan writes from Abeokuta, Ogun State capital