…As China Commits $5bn to State’s Free Trade Zone
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) has partnered the Oyo State Government to develop an industrial policy and strategic document poised to give the state’s industrialization initiatives a major boost.
The document was presented to the Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, by UNIDO Representative to ECOWAS and Regional Director, Nigeria Regional Office Hub, Mr. Jean Bankole, at the Governor’s Office, Ibadan.
At the event, the governor disclosed that China was in the process of injecting $5bn (N1.8tr) into the development of the newly established Polaris-Pacesetter Free Trade Zone, located along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, at the first instance.
In an address, Bakole said that Oyo was the first state to benefit from the strategic partnership, stressing that UNIDO was also working with the Federal Government on similar programme.
According to him, the ultimate objective of the industrial policy was to establish an integrated agro industrial park in Oyo and to support small and medium scale enterprises in the state.
He said that the organization realized that its intervention aimed at revitalizing industrial growth in the country might not yield the expected result if it failed to replicate what it started at the federal level at the state levels.
According to him, UNIDO decided to begin with Oyo State because of the commitment of the state government to industrial development judging by the establishment of a free trade zone and industrial park.
Bakole said, “Our main job is to support economic growth and transformation in Africa. We are here to see how we can build a roadmap to develop various sectors. Oyo State is the first to benefit from the partnership because it already has an industrial policy in place.
“UNIDO is now developing a new country programme. The document we are presenting today was prepared in collaboration with the state government. This document raises a number of challenges, which is not peculiar to Oyo State.
“Our business is now to turn these challenges to opportunities. Few of the challenges include poor power supply, dominance of informal sector, low level technology, lack of interagency synergy.”
In his remarks, the governor said that the state had comparative advantage for massive industrial development, judging by its vast arable land mass and population, concentration of research institutes, as well as its peaceful and secure environment.
Ajimobi disclosed that close to150 investors from Asian countries, especially China, had signified their preparedness to invest in the state’s FTZ, with assurances that seven of the companies would begin business by the end of the year.
Ajimobi said, “We are proud and happy to have been recognized as worthy of being the first state to benefit from this industrial development policy in Nigeria. Without sounding immodest, this is in acknowledgment of our commitment to industrialization.
“Oyo State is ranked 5th in ease of doing business in Nigeria because of the enabling environment. We have made peace and security the cornerstone of our pyramid of development. Similarly, we have provided social and physical infrastructure
“These are the sine qua non of industrial development. We are determined to ensure rapid industrialization. We want to be the preferred destination for investors. We are happy to announce that China alone is investing $5bn dollars in our free trade zone.
“We are now being seen as the centre for the country’s agric revolution, whereby many industries will be sited. There is no better time to have this industrial policy than now.”
The Commissioner for Trade, Investment and Cooperatives, Princess Taibat Adeyemi-Agaba, also said that UNIDO developed new industrial policy with active collaboration of the state.
According to her, the policy had the input of internal and external stakeholders, which she said would make it the best in the Southwest region when its implementation began.