Following the visit to Edo State of eleven World Bank Executive Directors to inspect major World Bank projects in the state, Country Director of the Bretton Woods institution, Rachid Benmassoud, will arrive the state on a 2-day follow-up visit, this week.Â
He will be accompanied by senior specialists in various sector areas, such as institutional reforms, public works, gender, agriculture, water and sanitation.Â Â
Benmassoudâ€™s visit is predicated on Edo State governmentâ€™s impressive deployment of funding, technical and other assistance of the World Bank, which was attested to, less than two weeks ago, by 10 Executive Directors of the World Bank, who were in the state for on-the-spot assessment of the bank-sponsored developmental projects in the state.
Specifically, the bankâ€™s country director will meet with heads of ministries, departments and agencies of the Edo State government to clear the way and prepare the state for a Special Funding Window from the bank to Edo State.
According to the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, â€œthe visit of the World Bank Country Director, lends credence to our commitment to bringing development to our people in the state, with the support of our partners.â€
He maintained that Edo State under his watch places high premium on the sanctity and the integrity of partnerships, contracts as well as an open and transparent process.
â€œDevelopment partners like the World Bank, operate in an environment where stakeholders abide by rules governing the partnerships, and in which input, output and outcomes are measured from time to time. The World Bank will not take you seriously if all you do is to award â€˜political contracts,â€™â€ he added.
The governor disclosed that during the World Bank Country Directorâ€™s visit, he would also tour the bank-sponsored projects such as erosion control projects under the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Project (NEWMAP), Edo State Employment and Expenditure for Result (SEEFOR), covering road projects; agriculture (FADAMMA); water, sanitation and review policy reforms in the civil service and other sectors.
The bankâ€™s executive directors endorsed Edo State as a model for developmentÂ financing at the sub-national level in developing countries recently, following the successes recorded in executing major infrastructure and social development projects in Edo State, especially the Edo-Azura Power Project.
Ms. Bongi Kunene, World Bank Executive Director, overseeing Angola, Nigeria and South Africa sub-group, gave the verdict in Benin City, and assured that the World Bank was willing to â€œpartner with the state on future projects, as long as the projects are in line with the bankâ€™s focus.â€
Kunene described Azura Power project asÂ Â â€œtransformational,â€ adding that the project â€œgives us a scope of what we can do together. We are delighted to see solutions. We would want to commit ourselves to projects that make sense and are in line with our focus.â€
She emphasised that more of such projects could be executed if governments were willing to cooperate with the bank in granting necessary approvals, allowing for thorough impact assessment and are open to multilateral financing arrangements.
Obaseki told his guests that with the 450MW Edo-Azura Power Project now on stream, â€œthe state wants more investors for the Benin Industrial Park and technology innovation hubs.
According to him, the enabling environment to host diverse investors is now available, especially with the provision of power by companies like Edo-Azura Power.
â€œPower is the key to industrialisation and development. We need to extend the benefits of this investment. Now that we have power, what are we going to do with it? The next set of projects has to rely on this key infrastructure we have just created.
â€œSo, we would be looking at the Benin Industrial Park, building infrastructure to encourage and support manufacturers to come in. We are looking at innovation hubs; we want to use the factor and advantage of 24/7 electricity to encourage technology groups and companies to be located in Edo State,â€ he said.