Economic evolution through industrialisation, public-private sector scheme
Industrialization is the process by which an economy moves from primarily agrarian production to mass-produced, technologically advanced goods and services. This phase is characterized by exponential leaps in productivity, shifts from rural to urban labor, and increased standards of living.
By typical measurements, such as income per capita or labor productivity, industrialization can be considered the most important economic development in human history.
Economic historian Deirdre McCloskey, writing in the Cambridge University Press in 2004, argued that industrialization was “certainly the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of animals and plants, perhaps the most important since the invention of language.”
Not all historians agree with the spark that ignited the Industrial Revolution. Most economists point to the changes in legal and cultural foundations in Great Britain that allowed free trade and gave entrepreneurs, the room and incentives to take risks, innovate, and profit.
But it is pertinent to bring to the fore, the improvements that have been recorded in Akwa Ibom State, under its Governor, Emmanuel Udom.
Before he came into office on May 29 2015, Akwa Ibom was rated as one of the states with the highest income inequality, peaking at over 0.54 for the self-employed (predominantly farmers) and 0.44 for the employed-salary paid/wage earners, according to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP 2012).
Akwa Ibom was also mentioned as the third state with the highest poverty rate of 27.1 per cent within the south-south zone after Cross River State (31.2 per cent) and Bayelsa state (32.5 per cent), Eugene (2012) and World Bank (2010). The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that Akwa Ibom State has the second highest unemployment rate of over 25.8 per cent after Delta state in the south-south zone, but leads other states in the zone in terms of income generating opportunities.
Besides, the state was also classified as a predominantly civil service state with the government being the major engine of growth, while the main economic activities of the people are fishing (for riverine and coastal dwellers), farming (mostly for upland dwellers), trading, artisanship and white-collar services.
The robust public sector employed a significant proportion of the states labour force, and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $11,179m then. Thus the task before Udom was beyond words, but to design an economic framework that would positively turnaround the realities of the state for growth through a well-structured industrialisation drive spread across all major sectors of the State’s economy.He made the promise on his inauguration when in his speech he said: “I have plans to transform the economy of our state through industrialisation and sustained public-private sector initiative, thereby opening up opportunities for growth and improved living standards”.
To get by with his commitment, he ensured the provision of the much-needed legal protections against political and regulatory risks through the state House of Assembly for investors and placed premium on peace and security in the state and keep investors’ confidence high as safe for investment.
So far in the states, there are identifiable projects executed or ongoing towards the much-talked about industrial revolution. Some are completed and operational, while some are ongoing and were refurbished/resuscitated and now operational.The Electric Digital Metering Solutions Manufacturing Factory, Syringe Manufacturing Factory (Largest in Africa), and Pencil Factory and Toothpick factory are examples of projects under the industrialisation agenda, which have been completed and are operating at optimal capacities.
The syringe company has the capacity to produce a billion a year. The Electric Digital Metering Solutions Manufacturing Factory will ensure electricity companies bill Nigerians accurately. Recently, the Port Harcourt Power Holding Electricity Distribution (PHED) and some others in the Niger Delta region ordered over one million meters from the company.
The Flour Mills and Coconut Refinery, Ibom Deep Seaport, Ibom Industrial Park/ Jetty, Plastic Manufacturing Factory and Fertilizer Blending Factory, and construction of 33 Cassava Micro-processing mills are all ongoing projects in the economic diversification agenda of the Governor.
Lastly, the resuscitation of Peacock Paint Industry and refurbishing of Cassava Processing Factories located at Ikot Okudom, Eket LGA; Nung Udoe, Ibesikpo/Asutan LGA and Ikot Ekang in Abak LGA which was leased to private operators for the production of high quality garri, odorless foofoo and cassava flour are examples of revived factories which were once in a comatose state and made operational.
NBS listed Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Oyo, Rivers states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as the most investors-friendly destinations in the country in the first quarter of 2017.NBS report showed that while Akwa Ibom, which is a major tourism hub of the country, attracted $18.361m capital importation, this year’s record showed a 27.75 per cent improvement over the country’s achievements of previous years.
Akwa Ibom State is presently experiencing rapid economic transformation, much faster than the Nigerian average. The quality of life index has grown to more than 300 per cent in only almost four years.
Under the review period, the state has transformed into a capital intensive economy rather than a labour intensive one, as well as a knowledge-driven economy for global competiveness, while becoming Nigeria’s third wealthiest state out of 36 in Gross Domestic Product– estimated at N6,157 billion yearly (about $31 billion) and a per capita well above national average at $6,120 per head.
Thousands of direct and ancillary jobs are being created and the skills set of the people is improved. Also improved are economies of scale built around these industries, all of which put money in the hands of the people. It must also be said that while presently, people of Akwa Ibom may not comprehend the significance of Udom’s industrial revolution mission fully, in years to come, these companies which are mostly startups today, in relation to their size and capacity would grow to become conglomerates especially when you put into consideration the wisdom to float the companies as public-private-partnerships (PPP).This is the model that brought about Chaebols and the Zaibatsus from family start-ups into global reckoning as conglomerates in what is today regarded as the Asian industrialisation.