The Uduaghan administration is enhancing investment opportunities and opening up Delta State for direct foreign investments
In the years to come, investors who are currently not looking towards Delta State may realise that they may have made wrong investment decision. When Peter Carter, British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria visited Asaba, the capital of Delta State in June, he made remarks that can serve as investment guide to businessmen from different parts of the world. Carter told Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan that he was in Asaba “to personally see the infrastructural development progress you are making in the state and the business opportunities in the state for the British government and British businessmen.” After seeing some structures put in place by the Uduaghan administration for investments to thrive, he declared that British businessmen as well as the British Council will be delighted to invest in the state.
In clear terms, devoid of the usual tact for which diplomats are known when they speak, the envoy said that the British government was impressed with the infrastructures on ground especially the Asaba airport, the wastes incinerator plants, the Ogidigben Gas City project and the Warri Industrial Business Park among others. He didn’t stop at that as he also announced that United Kingdom was also encouraged by the incentives put in place by the state government. That could very well pass for an endorsement of the state as a choice destination for investors.
Beyond that, Carter declared that Asaba Airport, one of the major attractions to investors in the state, is head and shoulders above the ones he had seen around the country and concluded that Asaba deserves to be the hub of aviation in Nigeria. Carter promised to bring the British Council with its creative initiative and the creative sector in the state to promote and develop the creative potential of the people of Delta State, stating that the creative industry is a huge driver of a successful economy as it creates jobs, exports talents and builds essential human capital.
As rightly observed by Carter, huge investment opportunities exist in the Warri Industrial Park, the Ogidigben Gas City project, agriculture, solid minerals, among others. For these, Delta State beckons. And like the governor has always told investors, another major attraction is the fact that the Nigerian population which is mainly made up of youths provides ready market for industrialists.
Like Carter, Patrick Kormawa, regional director, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO, believes that Delta State is a choice destination for investors. As part of the revolution that is going on in the economy of the state, the government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the organization for the establishment of a leather institute that will double as a shoe making industry. While the Delta State government will provide land and counterpart funding to the tune of $820, 000 UNIDO will manage the project. “We are very interested and committed to this project; it is part of our vehicles in driving the state beyond oil initiative,” the governor assured.
The investment climate in Delta State seems to be so attractive that no investor wants to be left out. Shoprite, the leading international shopping facility in Nigeria has also taken advantage of the growing business interests in the state to secure two strategic positions. In Asaba, the state capital, the shopping mall is springing up by the popular Ekumeku Junction just as it is also coming up at Effurun roundabout near Warri. To make the investment climate attractive to investors, the Delta State government is providing basic infrastructures, roads, water – these are things government can do for investors to come in. And although the government has some equity in the business, the larger equity is held by private sector. Yet, the Uduaghan government is not stopping at that.
There are a lot of moribund companies in the state, most of which collapsed over the years as a result of unfavourable investment climate among other factors. What the Delta State government is doing is to provide the enabling environment for their revival. So far, one of the steps government has taken is to open discussion with private investors to invest in those moribund companies. The discussions are centred around mergers and acquisitions.
“What we are doing about those moribund companies is that we are talking to some big companies like Nigeria Breweries, Guinness to either buy them over or partner with the owners. But some owners, because of cultural inclinations, they don’t want to let go their companies,” said Ken Opkara, Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning. The task of getting investors in the moribund companies is the state’s economic advisory team as well as the economic management team. Their brief includes going out to meet potential investors. For investors – local and foreign, Delta State beckons.
As part of the economic transformation agenda the government recently met with the organised private sector, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the state where it announced plans to take some of their committed members to Germany on course to learn and showcase some of their products. The business trip was also intended to create quick access to market for them so that at the end of the day, they could reach agreements with foreign investors who may show interest in their products for export.
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