The Enugu State Government at the weekend took a bold step towards the actualisation of a $30 billion economy in the next four to eight years, as the state successfully hosted an inaugural Enugu State Investment and Economic Growth Stakeholders Roundtable.
This was even as the administration of the state governor, Dr Peter Mbah used the occasion to unveil 30 investment opportunities worth over $2.1 billion, which it said were projects that would directly impact the lives of the people and change the economic fortunes of the state.
The event saw a large turn out of community of investors, development bankers, international development agencies, and other critical stakeholders, including the Government of the United Kingdom (UK), the World Bank, African Export-Import Bank (AfriExim), African Development Bank (AfDB), United Kingdom Department for Business and Trade, and the Infrastructure Credit Guarantee Company.
Speaking at the event, which was attended by prospective local and international investors, development financiers, and members of the diplomatic community, Mbah said that the theme of the event, “Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships”, underscored the administration’s vision to accelerate sustainable economic transformation powered by the private sector.
He urged investors to look towards Enugu as a preferred investment destination, saying the state was taking deliberate steps to create a friendly and de-risked business environment that would guarantee impressive returns on investment.
“The roundtable marks a new beginning for long-term partnerships and cooperation for shared prosperity, which will catalyse a sustainable, resilient, and prosperous Enugu,” he stated, assuring that Enugu would regain its lost glory in no time.
“Enugu State will become Nigeria/South East’s most remarkable success story driven by industrialisation and structural economic transformation, responsible public financial management, robust growth in trade and investment, and sustainable and inclusive infrastructural development.
“The magnitude of the efforts required to achieve our transformation goal calls for a shift away from the current dominant public sector model and towards policies and business environment reforms that will attract increased private sector and African diaspora participation in financing and delivering infrastructure and services in critical economic areas.
“We are no longer satisfied with the status quo, and so, we are presenting a pipeline of 30 potential project opportunities with an estimated investment value of more than 2.1 billion dollars.
“My vision is to transition the state from public to private investment-led growth, which will eventually close our physical and social infrastructure gap, create hundreds of thousands of jobs for the people, and expand our economy towards the 30-billion-dollar growth trajectory that we know is achievable”, he stated.
While laying out the State’s Integrated Sector-Based Productivity Growth Strategy, which charts a clear path to achieving the $30 billion GDP growth target, Mbah said: “We know that our goals for economic transformation are challenging, but they are attainable, and my government is resolute in its commitment to deliver on the promise we made to Ndi Enugu”.
Meanwhile, the strategic sector opportunities and indicative projects presented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, span transport and logistics, agriculture, energy and minerals, healthcare, eco-tourism and hospitality, aviation, as well as information and communication technology (ICT) sectors.
Speaking at the event, the Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Jonny Baxter, commended the Dr. Mbah administration for putting together the roundtable.
“This round table discussion is for us to understand and engage in the state’s transformation agendas and to also position the state into one of Africa’s hubs by accessing the investment opportunities that are existing.
“It should also be known that cashew, coconut and plantain are products being planted in Enugu and other South Eastern States are among the top priority products which are under the scheme. I will be delighted to ask people in the UK to look out for the cashew nuts produced in Enugu when they buy it in the UK. Cocoyam, which is also produced in the state, is also a priority product.
“We are all working together so that we can transform the enormous economic potentials in the state into a prosperous reality. I look forward to fostering a mutual investment and trading relationships between the UK and Enugu State,” he said.
Commending the roundtable, which he described as a demonstration of Mbah’s vision to transform Enugu’s economy, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, said there could not be job creation and sustainable economic growth and development without private-sector investments.
On his part, the Regional Chief Operating Officer, Afrexim Bank, Eric Intong, said the financial institution was ready to support the Enugu State government in project preparation to ensure their realisation, adding that Afrexim Bank was poised to trade with Enugu.