Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, yesterday inaugurated the multi-million naira Asaba Mall with an assurance that serious investors would be welcomed in the state with the government commitment to providing the enabling environment for investment.
Okowa commended the Resilient Africa Group of South Africa, the core investors and developer of the Asaba shopping mall, for its commitment to partnering local stakeholders and the state government to foster economic development of the state.
The governor expressed high hopes that the opening of the Asaba Mall, with the popular Shoprite as one of its occupants, would greatly stimulate the local economy in and around the state capital, saying it would complement the job and wealth creation policy of his administration.
He said the fact that the shopping complex was speedily constructed and made ready for business barely 16 months after he performed the foundation laying of the centre last year, testified to the seriousness of the South African investment company.
He said the establishment of the Asaba Mall by the firm, two years after the inauguration of the Delta Mall in Warri, also amounted to a vote-of-confidence on the state as “an investment haven.”
Okowa also expressed appreciation to the Asaba monarch, Ahaba of Asaba, Prof Chike Edozien, and the local community for providing a peaceful atmosphere that enhanced the development of the mall in record time.
He revealed that state government would cede 20 per cent of its small shares in the Asaba Mall to the Asaba community apparently as an encouragement to communities across the state to promote peace in order to attract more developmentl projects to their area.
According to Okowa, “Delta State is a good place to invest as the peaceful environment is here. Sixteen months after I laid the foundation stone of this place, the place has been transformed. Deltans are very excited by what they see here today.
“We must continue to provide the enabling environment in this state for investments to thrive for the creation of jobs for the youths, communities and generation of revenue for the state. Like I promised at the foundation stone laying ceremony, 20 per cent of the state share of this project will be ceded to the community, and I am pleased to note that Asaba as host community encouraged the execution of the project without any sign of disruption.”
The governor stressed that ongoing talks between the state government and several key private sector players would begin to yield desired fruits in the coming year, saying one of the his investors had already acquired 10,000 hectares of land for cultivation of cassava as the state prepare to host the largest cassava processing firms in Nigeria.
Speaking with journalists during the event, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Resilient Africa Group, Mr. Eddy McDonald, described the company’s experience in Nigeria as both “amazing and very challenging.”
The Asaba Mall was built at a cost of about $45 million he disclosed, even as he expressed willingness to work with more Nigerian investors and stakeholders.
He said the company maintains a policy of adhering to the Nigerian or local content requirement as it does everything to add value to the local products.
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. David Edevbie, described the Asaba Mall as a visible evidence of what a peaceful environment look like, saying it was served as a tonic for “increased revenue and creation of jobs.”
The facilitator of the project, Mr. Olumide Akintanya, described the state as an outstanding state which encourages investment to thrive in a peculiar way.
“Delta State should be every investor’s destination because the ease of doing business here can be described as 95 per cent and the people are business-minded,” Akintanya said.