The need for diversification and collaboration in the wake of the global pandemic, as a vehicle towards achieving a robust economy, cannot be overemphasized. This was the reverberating sentiment made by guests at the just concluded German-Nigerian Business Forum which held physically recently in Lagos.
The Forum, which is in its 9th edition, was organized by the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria (AHK Nigeria) in collaboration with the Nigerian–German Chamber of Commerce (NGCC) and the German-African Business Association (Afrika-Verein), to explore opportunities between both countries as well as chart a way forward in a post pandemic period.
The event, according to a statement which was well attended by dignitaries from the public and private sector, featured keynote speeches, panel sessions, presentations, and product demonstrations. Some of the speakers include Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of Nigeria; Birgitt Ory, German Ambassador to Nigeria; Folasade Adefisayo, Commissioner for Education, Lagos State; Emeka Offor, Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC); Herbert Wigwe, Group Managing Director and CEO, Access Bank Plc, and many more.
Speaking on the subject Akwa Ibom and Investment opportunities, the Chairman, Technical Committee on Foreign Direct Investments, Gabriel Ukpeh, called on investors across the globe to the investment opportunities that exist at the Akwa Ibom State Free Trade Zone, which have amounted to over $3billion in investment.
While the world is gradually emerging from the crushing blow of COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant pecuniary distress, Akwa Ibom State is said to hold a promise for economic respite as well as a catalyst for socio-economic transformation in West African sub-region. This is due to the economic renaissance that has recently characterized this Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
Ukpeh who harped on the renewed promise and attributes that Akwa Ibom state holds for potential investors through its various initiatives said that Akwa Ibom Free Trade Zone is 50,000 hectares FTZ, free container import – zero duties, no company taxes, sell in foreign currency, Ammonia plant – $1.4B, refinery, petrochemical plant, Fertilizer plant, Methanol plant, Gas processing and Thermal power plants for potential investors.
According to him, “the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, came from the private sector, hence, bringing a private sector perspective to bare on governance in the State, restructuring the way business of governance is done in Nigeria. Akwa Ibom state stands out when compared to other States in Nigeria for obvious reasons: it has been affirmed by many Nigerians including the Nigerian Police Force, as one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria, the security architecture is at par with those found elsewhere in the world”.
He also added that Akwa Ibom has the largest oil and gas reserve in the country, “there are a lot of oil and gas for investors whether in the area of petrochemical plants, methanol plant, thermal power plant, gas processing and other possibilities etc. In terms of infrastructural development, the Ibom Deep Sea Port with 17m depths, set to be the best in Nigeria, is in top gear and by March 2022, construction at the site is expected to commence, and would facilitate shipment and trade to other African countries. Behind the Deep Sea Port is the 14,000 Ibom Industrial City Free Trade Zone which has started attracting investors.
In the area of power, Akwa Ibom State government, through its commitment to power generation and distribution, has made possible, improved electricity supply in the state, more so it has its own power plant, Ibom Power, with an installed capacity of 191MW and licenced to generate 685MW.