Counting The Gains of Cross River State’s Enlarging Industrial Status

In Breaking News, Business & Economy, National News, Reports
Senator Liyel Imoke, Governor, Cross River State
Senator Liyel Imoke, Governor, Cross River State

by crossriverwatch admin

On Tuesday July 18th, 2013, General Electric, (GE), one of the top ten global conglomerates in the world performed the ground breaking ceremony at the Calabar Free Trade Zone to flag off the construction of its factory in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

Mr Jon Rice, the global vice chairman of the company while speaking at the ceremony said the company will in the next five years invest $1billion in the service and assembly plant with $250million voted for the commencement of the project.

Rice said the investment was in fulfillment of all the agreements and Memoranda of Understanding [MOU] which GE signed with the Federal Government of Nigeria stressing that the company was committed to helping the country provide stable public power supply and infrastructure for the citizens.

Nigeria, he added, holds great potentials for GE being the largest market in Africa hence the project in Calabar was one of two of its kind in the world under its Greenfield investment drive and promised to work round the clock so that the factory is completed on schedule for production to commence.

The vice president said his firm will key into Nigeria’s local content policy by recruiting and training citizens of the country so that they fit into the corporation’s technology and work ethic noting that this was the policy of GE anywhere it has investment. The company hopes to start with 250 staff but the total staff projection on full operation is 2, 300.

”We will develop local content; the first thing we’ll do is to open a training center here in Calabar. We will develop a workforce with strong capability and leadership skills. We chose Calabar because it is easy to figure out, has a serene environment and the state governor makes things easy for investors’’, he said.

In President Jonathan’s speech, the Nigerian leader explained that GE has proven to be a reliable partner in government’s transformation agenda given its investment in health care, rail transportation, electricity and infrastructure development and urged other foreign investors to feel free to invest in Nigeria.

The vision of the present administration, he revealed, was to achieve $4,000 gross domestic product but to realize it, there must an overhaul of electricity supply and infrastructure to fit into the current realities of global economy and thus stabilize in all key indices of development.

“Today, GE is investing in one of the world’s fastest growing economy. Nigeria is an access point to the West African market. We commend the company for this bold initiative. Government is committed to providing infrastructure and functional utilities, From July this year we shall be commissioning one independent power plant every month. Nine out of the 10 independent power plants in the country have their equipment supplied by GE’’, he said.

According to him, a regulated and efficient public power supply was underway and sued for cooperation and support from Nigerians so that government realizes its transformation agenda.

Governor Liyel Imoke in his speech said Cross River State was Nigeria’s new investment hub and called on local and foreign investors to do business in the state as the climate was conducive and the environment serene, peaceful and clean.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Olusegun Aganga represented by his deputy, Dr. Sam Ortom noted that GE’s investment will strengthen investors’ confidence in Nigeria’s economy and that the company in 2009 signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Federal Government and followed up with three MOUs in January this year for the 41Billion investment in Calabar.

The entry of GE into the Cross River State economy with such huge investment portfolio is a clear demonstration of the confidence local and foreign investors have in the state. The GE investment alone has the capacity of turning the fortunes of the state around as over 2500 jobs would be created alongside boosting the state’s revenue. Without gainsaying the new status of the state is a quantum leap from what it used to be not in the too distant future, say 2007, when Senator Liyel Imoke assumed the leadership of the state.

Back in 2007, even as the Tinapa Tourism and Leisure Resort was still at its inaugural state, the dominant factor in the Cross River State economy were plantations planted in the late sixties and early nineteen seventies by the Dr. Michael Okpara South -Eastern State administration.

Rubber, palm and cocoa plantations which were meant to serve as sources of raw materials for industries in the south east and south west occupied thousands of acres of land in the three senatorial districts of the state. Apart from occupying vast portions of land, trees in these plantations have become aged and unproductive effectively making them a burden to the state than a dependable revenue yielding investment.

Along with this came the “civil service state” stigmatization which the state had become synonymous with owing to the vast numbers of workers in the employ of the state. Senator Imoke, desirous of pulling the state away from this obnoxious status, brought ingenuity to bear while creating ministries and departments on assumption of office. One of such departments created then which has since become an invaluable asset in driving the state’s economy and generating massive employment is the Department of Trade and Investment Bureau.

Senator Imoke’s vision in establishing the Investment Promotion Bureau is for it to function as a One Stop Investment Centre (OSIC) dedicated to attracting and facilitating investments to Cross River State and providing support for in-coming investors.

From inception in 2008 to now, with Mr. Gerald Ada, a Regional Manager with Diamond Bank brought in by the governor in 2008, the State’s investment portfolio has witnessed increased inflow in Foreign Direct Investments, FDI both quantitatively and qualitatively.

This has consolidated the State’s position as the preferred business destination in Nigeria. Current business visitations to the OSIC is in excess of 300 companies and those that have commenced activities within the State have a combined investment portfolio in excess of $2billion (Two Billion Dollars).

Governor Imoke’s vision of building a private sector driven economy is without doubt crystallizing right before everyone’s eyes, both critics and supporters alike. Major private investors such as General Electric (GE), Dangote Cement, OCICI Ltd, Essar Power, Project Master, Brentex Petroleum Services, Dado Oil and Gas, Artee Group, Oando GAS and Power, Genesis Electricity Limited, Flour Mills Integrated Foods, Premiers Feeds, Godilogo Farms, South Gate Cocoa, Southern Fried Chickens amongst others have entered the state’s investment space within a short span of time which is visibly burgeoning the state’s profile by the day.

The spin-off effects these investments are bringing is job creation in excess of over 50,000 direct and indirect jobs for the people and the creation of over 10,000 Small scale Enterprises as well as an increase in internally generated revenue to the State.

Wilmar which is Asia’s leading Agribusiness Group which has taken over the CALARO and Ibiaye palm plantations is investing S400 million in agro- cultivation and processing and in return N1.375 billion Naira in internally generated revenue.

20, 000 jobs would be created for the people from this investment. Wilmar is the largest global processor and merchandiser of palm and lauric oils and a major oil palm plantation owner.

In China, it is the leading consumer pack edible oil producer, oilseeds crusher, edible oil refiner, and specialty fats and oleo chemicals manufacturer. In India, it is one of the largest edible oils refiners and leading producer of consumer pack edible oils.

“Wilmar also has extensive investments in other economic cash crops such as Rice and Sugar as well as Fertilizer Plants. The company has capacity to cultivate 7,500 hectres annually and has entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with PZ Cussons for its refining operations.

Wilmar is a signatory to the International Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) which means that it is involved in sustainable palm oil production that is Eco-friendly and socially responsible”. Mr Ada said.

Also, Nigeria’s major industrial conglomerate, Dangote Group is investing in the state through the establishment of a cement manufacturing plant worth $800 million while Essar Power has concluded arrangement for establishing an energy and power plant with a capacity to generate 250 megawatts of electricity.

Energy and gas companies like Oriental Energy Resources Limited and Brentex Petroleum are set to set up plants valued at $300 million and each to manufacture pipe mills which would cumulatively yield $50 million in IGR to the economy of the state. Major retail outlets like Artee Group and Southern Fried Chicken have enthusiastically acquired spaces in the state and have set up their chain of shops.

Obviously, Cross River State with low crime rate, serene environment and hospitable people remains a safe and conducive place to do business. There are huge opportunities in the over 18,000sq km of arable land for other crops, abundant solid mineral deposits including huge limestone deposits, beautiful mountains and vast rain forests and others which investors are attracted to.

Information Minister, Mr. Labaran Maku during the Good Governance Tour to the state in February 2013 after going through the investment portfolio of the state was amazed at the progress so far and described it as the emerging Nigeria’s manufacturing hub given the level of investment inflows into the state.

Inspecting the land acquired by GE for its factory at the Free Trade Zone in Calabar, Maku said given the rate major international companies are opening shops in Calabar, the state may soon become the manufacturing hub in West Africa.

In his reckoning, with sixty nine companies already functioning in the Free Trade Zone alone and over forty three into the manufacturing of goods, the inflow of investments into the state is unsurpassed and attributed it majorly to the state’s focused and visionary leadership.

“I congratulate Cross River State government for winning the General Electric project. Cross River is now not only known for tourism but is gradually becoming a manufacturing hub for the country and West Africa sub region.

“We have Tinapa, International Convention Center, Free Trade Zone and now General Electric. It means what Cross River has done for itself from Obudu to Calabar is a clear indication of visionary leadership.

“For us these type of investment is an announcement that Nigeria is moving forward and good governance can be seen everywhere. We are not only winning in football, we are also winning clearly in the economic transformation.”

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