Governor Godswil Akpabio
As the Akwa Ibom State Government unfolded its industrialisation road map over 70 foreign and local investors have keyed into the unveiled opportunities towards massive industrialisation of the state before the exit of the present administration in 2015.
Already, the state government has pencilled down the Bank of Industry (BoI) for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost its industrialisation policy or drive in various types and categories of industries in the state.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Investment and Industrialisation, Chief Senas Ukpanah, who confirmed this, said various applications from investors willing to invest in the state are being subjected for vetting by the Akwa Ibom Investment and Industrial Promotion Council (AKIIPOC) to ascertain the seriousness of the investors.
“We have discovered that out of 100 applications from people who have indicated interest to invest in Akwa Ibom State, 70 are fake, hence it was proper to carry out due diligence on those groups and would be investors that had expressed interest to establish or revive ailing industries to ascertain their seriousness and credibility”, he added.
Presently, Ukpanah said opportunity abounds for the establishment of small and medium-scale industries in 53 identifiable areas in the agro-allied, building materials, electrical sectors, general industries as well as reactivation of ailing industries; therefore, government would not hesitate to partner with any genuine investors willing to key into the industrial master plan of the state.
Among the industries identified include cassava starch plant making, beverages factory, seafood processing and fishing nets and marine ropes factory, all in the agro-allied sector.
Others include those in the building materials sector including nails factory, roofing sheets factory and floor/walls tiles factory and general industries, including pharmaceutical products plants and cosmetics among others.
He disclosed that an Italian firm has indicated interest in reactivating the Akwa Palm industry in Esit Eket local government area while similar interest had been shown in respect of the Peacock Paints at Etinan, the Ceramics factory at Itu and the Sunshine Battery at Essien Udim local government area.
Ukpanah, a one-time Minister of National Planning, reaffirmed the resolve of the State Governor, Chief Godswill Äkpabio, to establish at least one industry in each of the 31 LGs of the state by 2015, in partnership with the private sector operators.
The Special Adviser hinted that an industrial fund of N15 billion has been set up in an escrow account with the Bank of Industry and other commercial banks for would-be investors willing to partner government to access the account after due clearance and readiness to establish an industry in the state.
On whether the state would achieve its goal of establishing an industry in each of the 31 LGs of the state considering the fact only three years remain till 2015, Ukpanah declared, “There are no short-cuts to industrialisation, it is a process and cannot be accomplished within six months. The N15 billion is a budgetary provision, it is for us to put into reality the governor’s vision of industrialising the state”.
He opined that the state was not interested to embark on establishment of any industry by itself or direct disbursement of loans because of the fear that such industry might collapse in future due to bad management; hence going into public private partnership and competent banks in loan recovery selected.
“Our people must come out and be part of the process. If government establishes industries, they will fail. We want people to come forward and take part in the industrialisation of the State Government,” he said.
He said the Bank of Industry and other commercial banks involved in the industrialisation road map of the state, had been briefed on the loan policy and to grant a single digit interest especially for indigenous entrepreneurs or firms.