‘Why Alaghodaro investment summit is important’
The Edo State Government is hosting a three day summit (Alaghodaro) themed “Envisioning the Future”, aimed at promoting innovation and economic development for its various sectors. CNBC Africa’s Onyi Sunday spoke to Edo State Governor; Godwin Obaseki, about the importance and what to expect from the investment summit.
For us the key is to try and align our growth and development plans with that of the federal government because we are subnational. What we expect to do is to see how we link our own development agenda and trajectory with that of the federal government’s economic recovery and growth plan. That in a sense will finalise where we are headed and what we expect today.
But at the same time you also want to do things differently. Talk us through what you think you’ll be doing differently and in what sectors.
We have actually started. If you realise that Edo is the logistic hub of the country – you cannot go from the Western part of Nigeria to the East or to the South South, you cannot go without going through Edo. Given that logistical advantage, what we have done is to try to improve that logistical advantage through internal upgrades of our infrastructure that connects with the Federal infrastructure, be it roads or electricity and range of other infrastructural networks like fibre networks, telecommunications networks. Those are areas where we’ve commenced policies, work, and we want to use the opportunity of the Aloghodaro summit to show our people, the country and the globe that we are connected with not just the federal government but to the future.
Why is Edo State that important to the nation. Edo state is known for its rich culture, but besides that what else can investors expect or look forward to in your state?
We are the home of oil palm, rubber and cash rich products like timber and cocoa. These products if you recall were the economic basis of which our country was founded. Now with oil receding and not playing as significant a part in our national development as it used to. We’ve got to go back to those natural endowments and its clearly very definite that if countries like Malaysia and Indonesia came to pick the Palm Oil seeds from Nigeria and do what they have done with those products to transform their countries, we felt that we should go back to that inheritance and renew those assets and the advantages we had.
Do you think its a little too late to catch up in the agricultural space?
No. Fortunately with technology and the advances that are happening around the world today in terms of farming practices and in terms of the mistakes these other countries have made, we believe that we can leapfrog and that’s what we are going to do. We are not going to be using materials that are dated, we’re going to be using high yield materials that are just coming out of the laboratories.
What do you want to hear from the Agricultural investors who’ll be attending the Edo State Investment Summit?
What we want to hear them say is to acknowledge that we are thinking in the right direction; that they are de-risking transactions, we are ensuring that we regulate and normalise things like land acquisition, providing security, and infrastructure into their farms and their assets. We are providing things opportunities for processing and naturally we’re the hub of a 60 million market. These are the things that we want to get them to know.
Talk us through the reforms we can expect coming in Edo State?
We need law and order to make investors comfortable that when they do business they can repatriate their returns. You want to make them understand that their property rights are protected. You want to make them feel safe in terms of law and order and security. You also want to let them know that you have a civil service or bureaucracy that understands how to deliver service and value. Those are the key elements of our institutional reforms. We are also working very closely with the judiciary to make sure that our court systems are efficient and that if you have issues and problems with contracts, they can be enforced in this environment.
What do you think remains the biggest concern for investors in Edo State?
The biggest challenge is data, information. People need to be able to get information about opportunities and how they can access those opportunities because we have not sold ourselves well. We have allowed negative press to overshadow the opportunities we have. Our emphasis is going to be providing information, data and handholding potential investors.
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