…Enugu State is set to Do Business Big With Indonesia.
Full text of a keynote address by Prof. Chidiebere Onyia (SSG, Enugu State)on Friday at a press interactive session organised by Nigerian Indonesian Investment and Trade Forum at Lagos Continental Hotel Lagos.
‘Our abundant mineral resources supported a thriving iron and steel industry in Enugu, while our limestone deposits provided raw materials for cement plants. Enugu’s fertile lands have blessed us with rich palm plantations, the best cashew species in Nigeria, rice, cassava etc.’
Distinguished guests, it is with great pleasure that I address this esteemed gathering at the Nigeria Indonesia Trade and Investment (NIITF) press conference. I am particularly delighted to share the exciting news of the partnership between Enugu State Government and Indonesia aimed at rediscovering business opportunities in our dear State.
I would like to express my profound gratitude to the Nigerian Indonesia Chamber of Commerce for organizing this press conference and choosing such a critical theme particularly in the wake of the recent societal, industrial and technology disruption.
The theme of 2023 NIITF, “Rediscovering Business Potential in Nigeria” highlights the immense opportunities that lie within our great nation. Nigeria has always embodied tremendous potential, and this collaboration with Indonesia further amplifies our commitment to realizing this potential.
Painting a Picture of Enugu
Enugu state, strategically located as the gateway of the south-eastern region of Nigeria is a thriving investment hub with a dynamic workforce and a rich history. It emerged as one of Nigeria’s tripods of multi-cultural melting-pots (alongside Oyo and Kaduna states) upon which the then newly independent Nigeria was built.
In Nigeria’s historical context, Enugu State played a pivotal role in catalysing economic growth by serving the energy needs of the nation and beyond. Our rich coal mines were used to power key infrastructure projects whilst serving as an essential export commodity to Europe. Our abundant mineral resources supported a thriving iron and steel industry in Enugu, while our limestone deposits provided raw materials for cement plants. Enugu’s fertile lands have blessed us with rich palm plantations, the best cashew species in Nigeria, rice, cassava etc. Our fertile land has also grown sesame, cotton and sorghum, and the popular pepper specie commonly termed “Ose Nsukka” with a rich distinct taste.
Enugu is blessed with breath-taking natural landscapes which present viable investment opportunities in eco-tourism. The waterfalls such as the Ngwo Pine Forest and waterfall, Awhum Waterfalls, and Iyi Uba waterfall are popular destinations for their picturesque views. The Udi Hills provide a complete landscape view of Enugu. Our forest reserves are strategic for preserving biodiversity and contributing to the global discourse of climate mitigation and adaptation.
Our predominantly youthful population provides Enugu with a wealth of human capital, a critical driver for the start-up ecosystem which currently ranks fourth in Nigeria and ninth in West Africa. The young population guarantees a continuous supply of labour and adaptability to technological change in the industrial space. This makes Enugu a preferred hub for Business Process Outsourcing, where fortune 500 companies can outsource business process functions to readily available talent.
Enugu is blessed with untapped natural gas reserves. This presents a myriad of investment opportunities across key sectors such as energy, power and transport sector. Our vast natural gas reserves have imposed a responsibility on Enugu to drive the Nigerian green economy transition and I am happy to announce that Enugu is one of the first states to attract investment in CNG-powered buses. Our state has the potential to be a leader in the clean industries of tomorrow.
Enugu State is a vital trade and investment gateway into the southeast region. It has a multi-modal transport infrastructure to support trade activities between the South-eastern region, Northern Nigeria, as well as the rest of Africa such as:
a. a full-fledged international passenger and cargo airport, one of only six (6) in Nigeria, and the only international airport in the Southeast.
b. the strategic Bamenda-Enugu highway corridor, which is currently being expanded, that connects Nigeria to the rest of Africa through Cameroon.
c. the Enugu Makurdi expressway which is the primary trade corridor between the North and Southeast region as well as the South–South areas.
d. The narrow-gauge railway line connecting Port Harcourt and Maiduguri via Enugu, which is currently being refurbished for increased efficiency.
Mission and Vision
The vision of our administration is to make Enugu one of the top three revenue-generating states in Nigeria, to attain a 0% poverty headcount rate, and to ensure peace and security in the sprint to grow Enugu’s economy exponentially from a $4.4bn GDP to a $30 billion GDP economy in the next 8 years. This vision emphasises inclusive economic growth and sector competitiveness, sustainable economic, social, and environmental resilience for all citizens, and the restoration of peace and security for people, property, and critical economic and social processes.
Our mission is to make Enugu the preferred destination for investment, business, tourism and living in Nigeria.
Enugu State will become Nigeria’s most remarkable success story driven by industrialization and structural economic transformation, responsible public financial management, robust growth in trade and investment, and sustainable and inclusive infrastructural development.
Economic Transformation Plan
The blueprint for our economic transformation underscores a three-pronged strategy of boosting sector productivity, reforming key state institutions, and creating cross-cutting social sector programmes and services.
We also understand that security is a major enabler for investment and that’s why our administration under the leadership of His Excellency Dr Peter Mbah was bullish in tackling insecurity utilizing every digital and physical apparatus to provide a safe and secure Enugu. I am proud to say that the illegal sit-at-home no longer exists in Enugu State. The government is working assiduously to ensure that safety of life and property are prioritised in Enugu.
Our administration will adopt an integrated sector-based productivity growth strategy. This strategy is designed to shift economic focus away from low productivity activities to sectors with the greatest potential for growth. Prioritising sectors that hold latent comparative advantage will ensure that we meet our $30 billion GDP target through accelerated competitiveness and industrialization.
One of our key priorities under the integrated sector strategy is to increase our agricultural output through agricultural modernization and infrastructure development. Deploying capital towards modernized farming will boost labour productivity and enhance agricultural surplus, in preparation for our value-addition agro-industrialization agenda. The government will also strengthen value chain linkages and invest in enabling infrastructure to prevent post-harvest losses and promote trade.
In agriculture, the state will prioritise the development of special agro-allied industrial zones. The aim is to drive the modernization and productivity of our key agricultural product value chains. It will also drive value addition, increase our export potential, and create rural jobs. Because technological advancements are now essential to achieving agricultural sustainability goals, our focus will be on scaling technologies for agricultural system transformation, such as productivity-enhancing farm machinery, e-wallet systems to track subsidised agricultural inputs, providing soft loans to farmers, and technology-enabled extension services that educate and provide technical assistance to farmers on latest agronomy practises.
Another priority area under the Integrated Sector-Based Productivity Growth Strategy is industrialization. Our administration will focus on creating an enabling business environment for local and foreign investors to establish industrial ventures in Enugu State. We have constituted a working group to ensure that we streamline administrative processes and eliminate bureaucratic bottlenecks that hamper investments. I am happy to announce that we are beginning to make remarkable strides as investors are guaranteed title documents within 72hours of purchasing land in Enugu.
In Energy, we will build critical infrastructure that will ensure that we harness and utilize our gas resources along the value chain from production to end-user consumption. We are also creating investment opportunities in the renewable energy space from solar powered infrastructure to biodiesel plants using waste products. Our commitment to decarbonise and shift to low carbon economy is unwavering and we will continue to lead in the just transition to a net zero economy. Enugu stands as one of the first states to pass the electricity law and we have started the process of setting up our regulatory commission. Democratising the power sector will catalyse private sector investment and lead to a competitive energy market that is reliable and cost-effective.
Enugu boasts of a rich mineral sector. The mineral resources in Enugu include: lignite, ironstone, sand limestone, clay mineral, glass sand, oil shale, coal, illite, kaloline, alum, laterite etc. One of our key priorities is to seek investment towards a sustainable exploration, production, and consumption approach. This will ensure that we are able to harness our mineral resources with minimal environmental impact. With this, we will develop mineral resources on our soil using a sustainable value chain approach. We will begin by mobilising financing to conduct a thorough geo-spatial mapping of our natural resource endowments, followed by their sustainable extraction, beneficiation, and value addition.
Our multi-modal transport system in Enugu requires an Integrated Sector-Based approach. Our vision to develop and expand existing transport infrastructure will require the mobilization of private investment in the complimentary transport and ICT infrastructure with a strong focus on building resilient transportation systems. This will facilitate the exportation of goods and services. Enugu State also has the energy resources to power and build our transportation infrastructure.
The role of ICT, innovation and digital infrastructure in achieving our exponential growth target cannot be overstated. We have commenced our e-governance process and our vision is to increase broadband internet availability, establish ICT and tech clusters, build a tier 4 hyperscale commercial AI data centre, implement structured ICT education in primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions, and increase skill acquisition in four areas of interest: fintech and digital finance, IT services, cyber security, and e-commerce.
We will harness the rich tourism sites in Enugu and deploy investments in eco-tourism. Our goal is to build enabling infrastructure around existing forest reserves, caves, waterfalls and construct resort areas to promote tourism. Enugu will invest in a film and movie academy, as well as an arts and crafts village.
We will drive a once-in-a-generation investment in roads, bridges, railroads, ports and other infrastructure. We will prioritize efficient and resilient multi-modal transportation systems and expand trade infrastructure and facilitation measures. This drive for infrastructure build out is exemplified by our efforts to date in the area of water provision. On assumption of office, His Excellency Dr Peter Mbah promised the people of Enugu that water would be made available in all homes within Enugu metropolis in the next 180 days. Just over 90 days after that promise, we are now producing in excess of 25 million litres of water daily for the first time in the last 20 years, and we are poised to produce 70 million litres of water daily by next month[AC1] .
Beyond measuring GDP growth, we aim to foster long-term prosperity and resilience for all. Our cross-cutting social sector intervention top priorities include strengthening and expanding essential and supplementary social safety net programmes. It will increase resilience to economic shocks and eradicate extreme poverty. We will work to increase demographic dividends by making sure that everyone has access to high-quality healthcare and education. The expansion of specialised maternal and infant care, strengthening the financial sustainability of tertiary and primary healthcare facilities, and enhancing the capability of healthcare workforce will be prioritized.
As part of our social sector strategy, we will combat poor health outcomes and malnutrition at the primary school level through school meal plus and immunisation programmes. We will equally provide free and excellent secondary school education, vigorously promote and support vocational and technical education, and champion the welfare of teachers. This chain is crucial to the success of our educational system. This direction is best exemplified by our model schools programme under which we are going to develop 260 model basic schools across the 260 wards in the state. These modern schools will have world classrooms, recreation areas and teachers’ quarters. A pilot of this model school is already under construction and nearing completion. These schools will provide a most auspicious and experiential learning environment in line with our ‘cut-off point campaign’ which aims to ensure that no child in Enugu lacks access to world class education in the next 4 years.
Finally, because strengthening institutional capacity is a fundamental precondition for achieving Economic Transformation Objective, our governance philosophy emphasises transparency, traceability, and accountability across key government institutions. We give particular place in this regard to the judiciary, civil service, security, and community leadership institutions. This includes instituting judicial reforms, establishing specialised business and investment courts, as well as unwavering investment in security infrastructure. The latter will provide restoration and maintenance of peace and security for people and property, as well as critical economic and social processes. We will improve the administration of justice system and the rule of law, enhance the capacity, accountability, and service delivery of public institutions, and increase citizens’ participation and engagement through platforms. The ultimate aim is to facilitate focused dialogue on developmental issues.
Public Private Partnership
The State government has recognised that FAAC allocation is grossly inadequate to execute all the projects in our pipeline and that’s why we are developing policies and legal frameworks that will spur full participation of the private sector. We are fully committed to devising innovative solutions to financing infrastructure projects.
The private sector will then implement the much-needed investment that will put the state on the path to economic transformation.The magnitude of the efforts required to achieve our transformation goal calls for a shift from the current dominant public sector model. We need to shift focus towards policies and business environment reforms that will attract increased private sector and African Diaspora participation. This will finance and deliver infrastructure and services in critical economic areas.
This administration recognises private investment as a key driver of long-term economic growth and prosperity. I declare that our administration is firmly committed to fostering a business-friendly environment through targeted incentives, effective security measures, and transparent, convenient, and effective governmental services. Enugu State will fully support domestic and international partners who are looking forward to expanding their presence in the state.
As a product of the private sector, His Excellency Dr Peter Mbah understands that investors need an enabling business environment to inject capital. We know that ease of doing businesses; infrastructural availability and adequate security are critical to successful investments. We have thus created here in Enugu State a one-stop shop for registration of businesses. We intend to make a N2 trillion investment in infrastructure in our state in the next four years. We have also begun tackling significant issues with the business enabling environment under the direction of the World Bank State Action on Business Enabling Reforms (SABER), including a review of the State’s Land administration and land investment processes, our Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy frameworks and services for investment promotion. The State has also invested in a GIS platform, and we are currently streamlining the state’s tax and land administration systems. These will ensure that services for investment support are efficient.
As I round up, we are hopeful that this collaboration with the Indonesian government births a long-term partnership that will result in mutual prosperity, capital flows and diversification of Indonesian industries into Enugu. We also hope that NIITF will spur trade activities between both countries.
Publisher/editor, The Real Sector; www.realsectornow.com;
ex-Industry Editor/Member,Editorial Board,
E-mail: [email protected]
…A string of three strands is not easily broken