Nigeria: Alaghodaro Summit – Showcasing Investment Opportunities, Engendering Economic Prosperity in Edo State

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The buildup to this year’s Alaghodaro Summit, slated to commence on Friday, has reached a feverish pitch. Apart from consolidating on years of building a vibrant private sector-led economy, the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration sees the summit as a veritable platform to showcase investment opportunities in Edo State, and provide a pivot for economic prosperity. Eromosele Abiodun reports!

On mounting the saddle as Governor of Edo State on November 12, 2016, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, espoused plans for resetting the state’s economic base as well as restoring the dignity of Edo people, anchored on six thematic pillars of socio-economic development. Five years after, the shape of economic transformation is discernable in Edo State. The governor, being a technocrat, strategist and silent workaholic would rather allow his performances speak for him as he strives to create a win-win outcome for the Edo people.

One of the ways the governor has been able to bring development to Edo State is the deliberate move to make the state economy private sector-led. To make the effort sustainable, he introduced the Alaghodaro Summit, a forum where top private sector players in Nigeria and diaspora gather to share ideas and explore investment opportunities in the state.

In a season of declining oil revenues, Obaseki believes that Alaghodaro is a strategic response to confront challenge through innovation by moblising human and private capital to open up non-oil sectors such as agriculture, mining, sports, technology, entertainment, arts, culture and tourism. He is correct.

By being forward-looking and coming up with a strategic intent for creating wealth and prosperity for the Edo State people, Governor Obaseki is bringing his wealth of experience in the private sector, especially his investment-savvy credentials, to bear on his economic transformation agenda in Edo State.

The Alaghodaro Summit is an annual event held to showcase the developmental strides of the government, unveiling the numerous reforms and initiatives that have created opportunities for prosperity – driven by Edo people and the state’s burgeoning investors – and opened up the space to interrogate and challenge conventions that impede progress, with a view to correcting them.

In addition, the summit over the years explored how Edo State will leverage its competitive advantages in the different sectors for sustainable economic growth. This year’s summit is aimed at consolidating on years of building a vibrant private sector-led economy by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration, showcasing investment opportunities and engendering economic prosperity in the state.

Dangote, Others Eye Investment Opportunities in Edo State

As Edo readies for the Alaghodaro Summit 2021, big-ticket investors, including the Dangote Group, Okomu Oil Plc and Presco Plc have declared interest to wholly participate in the summit, leveraging the platform to tap into the investment opportunities created by the business-friendly disposition of the incumbent government in the state.

The summit, now in its fifth edition, is scheduled to take place between November 12 and 14, 2021, driven by the theme, “Edo of Our Dreams: Building a Sustainable Future.”

The annual summit, to mark the governor’s anniversary in office, showcases investment opportunities in the state and the numerous achievements, reforms and initiatives by the administration to improve the living standards of the people.

Chairman, Marketing and Branding Sub-Commitee, Alaghodaro 2021, Crusoe Osagie, in a statement said, “Already, top private sector players in the state and across the globe, like Dangote Group, Presco Plc and Okomu Plc, among others, have declared interests in the summit, with plans to leverage the business-friendly environment and the opportunity for exchange of ideas with the private sector created by the state government to tap into Edo’s rich investment opportunities.”

He noted that the state has gotten an avalanche of requests from the organized private sector players, who are poised to clinch vantage positions at the summit to reap from the gains of the conducive-business environment provided by the government.

According to him, “This year’s summit promises to be even more exciting, as it will showcase a number of the transformative policies and programmes by the state government targeted at further easing up the space for private investment and building a productive, efficient and result-driven civil and public service.

“While Okomu and Presco are poised to expand their plantation, Dangote is planning to accelerate its investment in the solid mineral sector, especially with its cement manufacturing plant, which is already operational in the state.

“Governor Obaseki has continued to prioritise inflow of investment into the state with bold and investor-friendly policies, which has resulted in the setting up of a number of industrial plants, including modular refineries, gas processing plants, energy parks, an inland dry port, among others,” Osagie noted.

Other Areas of Focus

Osagie said the Edo Modular Refinery, the CCETC-Ossiomo Power Plant, and the Edo Production Centre, among other projects to open up Edo’s industrial sector, will be the focal point of this year’s Alaghodaro Summit, as top manufacturers, business owners and other industry stakeholders converge to explore opportunities in the state’s thriving industrial sector.

He said the Obaseki-led state government has continued to support the state’s manufacturing and industrial sector, ensuring the provision of the right incentives to drive productivity.

“These incentives, as well as reforms and projects like the Edo Modular Refinery, the CCETC-Ossiomo Power Plant, and the Edo Production Centre, among others, to open up the space for private investment in the manufacturing sector, will be brought to the fore at the Alaghodaro Summit 2021.

“The summit will serve as a platform to bring together local and international manufacturers as well as other industry leaders to review and explore opportunities in the sector,” Osagie added.

The well respected strategist stated further: “The Alaghodaro Summit, over the years, has created opportunities for more investors to come into the state to tap from the state’s rich investment opportunities, and this year is no exception.

“With the expanding CCETC- Ossiomo Independent Power Plant that has now opened up the electricity market in Edo State to drive industrial growth and attract private investors, and the 1000bpd Edo modular refinery, which is now ready for production, the state is even more positioned to becoming a business destination haven.

“Also, in the Edo Production Centre, which is now being expanded to the three senatorial districts in the state, we have ensured the provision of a conducive environment for production, with electricity, water, security and other basic infrastructure. This we did to drive industrial development, provide job opportunities for youths and create wealth for our people.

“We believe that this year’s Alaghodaro will be even more exciting, as we expect the convergence of local and international manufacturers and other industry stakeholders who are eager to leverage these opportunities created by the Obaseki-led state government,” he restated.

Opportunities in Digital Economy

The Director, Strategic Partnerships, Decagon Limited, Mr. George Imoedemhe; and Chief Executive Officer, e-Scape Technologies Limited, Mr. Chris Abhulimen; are among global tech experts listed as panelists to unlock opportunities that exist in the digital economy and outline a pragmatic approach to harnessing them for Edo youths, during this year’s Alaghodaro Summit.

Other panelists are Co-Founder, Farmforte Limited, Mr. Osazuwa Osayi and Special Adviser to the Edo State Governor on Strategy, Policy, Projects, and Performance Management), Sarah Esangbedo AjoseAdeogun, while Senior Digital Development Specialist, World Bank, Ms. Ida Mboob will serve as moderator for the session.

The panel session, with the theme, “Empowering the Next Generation through Innovation and Digitalisation,” will also discuss the specific programmes, policies and projects undertaken to fast-track the state’s position as the technology hub of Nigeria and highlight the areas that require additional measures from public and private sector stakeholders to accelerate the growth of innovation and digitization in the State.

Osagie noted, “Since the inauguration of Governor Godwin Obaseki in 2016, His Excellency has invested in empowering Edo youth as a cardinal objective of his administration, with a focus on technology and innovation.

“In line with this vision to make Edo State the “Silicon Valley” of South-South Nigeria, it has established a well-designed innovation hub to support the growth-oriented entrepreneurship within the State, where over 27,000 individuals have benefitted from Information and Communication Technology (ICT) certified training, start-up acceleration and access to employment within the ICT sector as well as a conducive workspace environment for start-ups and SMEs provided by the Centre.’

IVM Leads Others to Summit

It has also emerged that Nigerian indigenous motor manufacturing company, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) will lead other top players in the nation’s automotive industry to the Alaghodaro Summit 2021, scheduled to take place between November 12 and 14, in Benin City, the Edo State capital.

According to Osagie, “We are glad to announce that Innoson Motors will be leading other top players in the automotive sector to this year’s Alaghodaro Summit to benefit from Edo State. The government is already in talks with the indigenous automobile manufacturing company in converting PMS cars to CNG, leveraging the availability of electricity in the state, as we are aware of its positive impact on the state’s and nation’s economy. This is also seeing that the Edo Auto Park is being developed in the state.

“Our youths are also going to benefit in this regard as they will be trained on various skills including panel beating, auto-mechanics, painting, and electricals, among others.”

“The summit will be a win-win situation for our burgeoning investors and the state and its people. All is set to ensure a stimulating outing this year as we have lined up exciting programmes to create memories in the minds of attendees, including the investment summit, commissioning of select projects, the mega youth concert, a golf tournament, praise night, among others,” Osagie added.

“Edo State, under Governor Godwin Obaseki, in the last five years, has witnessed tremendous progress as the government has enacted people-centric reforms and executed life-transforming projects targeted at developing the state and creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

“This is the basis on which investors have continued to throng into the state to benefit from the business-friendly environment provided by the government. This year’s Alaghodaro Summit presents yet another opportunity for investors to harness the rich business potentials of the state.”

Undoubtedly, the pioneering drive of the Obaseki administration will eventually become a template on people-oriented governance across the nation. It is well steeped in fiscal independence and provokes the need for state governors to completely innovate and think out of the box. The era of going cap in hand to Abuja for monthly handouts should become a thing of the past. Such monthly allocations ought to be considered as residual revenue, while focusing on non-oil sector revenue to accelerate developments in their respective states.