A move that can unquestionably pass for an aggressive transformation plan was at play Friday in Lagos as Professor Chidiebere Onyia, SSG, Enugu State reeled out the state’s transformation strategy at a press interactive session.
Enugu State is not going it alone. It is in partnership with the Indonesian Government. The arrow head of the event themed ‘Rediscovering Business Potential in Nigeria’ was the Nigerian Indonesian Chamber of Commerce.
Professor Onyia reeled out his State’s vision with all confidence: “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.”
Onyia added “Our mission is to make Enugu the preferred destination for investment, business, tourism and living in Nigeria”.
For him, “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.”
He continued: “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.”
In case economy watchers like us and other stakeholders would want to raise concern on threatening trending security issue, he had an answer: “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.”
On strategy, he argued: “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.”
Said Onyia: “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 growth and 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. “
We all know that energy is a worrisome issue in relation to economic development and growth. His take on this: “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.”
In case you are wondering what makes Enugu qualify for the robust transformation in question, Onyia has an answer. Hear him: “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.”
Role of ICT
And on role of ICT which now rules the business and allied spaces? What is his take on this? For him, 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 can go on and on. It is a marathon. Enugu will harness the rich tourism sites in Enugu and deploy investments in eco-tourism; will drive a once-in-a-generation investment in roads, bridges, railroads, ports and other infrastructure; will prioritize efficient and resilient multi-modal transportation systems and expand trade infrastructure and facilitation measures, etc.
Public Private Partnership
Enugu government is shifting from the current dominant public sector financing model to public/private sector partnership.
Said Onyia: “This administration recognises private investment as a key driver of long-term economic growth and prosperity…Enugu State will fully support domestic and international partners who are looking forward to expanding their presence in the state.
“…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. “
Enugu State is a key participant in the Nigerian Indonesian Investment and Trade Forum 2023 which will hold in Jakarta Indonesia this month. The Enugu State Commissioner for Trade, Investment and Industry, Mrs Adaora Chukwu, said that the state’s partnership with Indonesian government was based on the state governor’s initiative to move the state from 4.4 billion dollars to 30 billion dollars economy. Chukwu said that part of the ways to achieve the mandate was through strategic partnerships and collaboration with various international and local investors to harness the various investment opportunities in the state.
She explained the investment forum would help to open up newer opportunities for investors, business, trade, and export arrangement between both countries’ economies.
“The government has adopted a model which is the Integrated Sector Growth Strategy (ISGS) which implies that no sector is prioritized above another, with synergy and connections of every sector to the other. Efforts have been made to strengthen regulatory and legal framework to ensure the elimination of bottle necks to allow investors to come in.”
Ishmael Balogun, President, Nigeria Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NICCI), in his opening address at the press conference, said that investments between both countries have shored up to 4.6 billion dollars in 2022 from 2.6 billion in 2021.He said that the potential to do more existed, hence the theme for the event in Indonesia. He said Peter Mbah, the Governor of Enugu State, will be delivering the keynote address this year in line with his promise to raise the GDP of his state.
Said he: “We have a very robust line up of participants both from the public and private sectors from Nigeria and Indonesia.
Areas of focus include but not limited to manufacturing, renewable energy, power generation, infrastructure development, health, agriculture, transportation, mining, digital economy and much more. This will be followed by a government to government, government to business and business to business round table discussions to further foster sustainable collaborations and fruitful partnerships
Publisher/editor, The Real Sector; www.realsectornow.com