Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Edo State is poised to clinch part of the $60 billion penciled down as financial support by the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, for the African continent, which was announced at the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in China recently.
In his keynote speech, Xi Jinping said in the next three years, China would float eight major initiatives with African countries, to realise a closer China-Africa community of shared destiny.
He noted that the fields of interest for China include industry, investment, trade, infrastructure, health, culture, environmental protection and security.
Governor Godwin Obaseki with representatives of the federal government in Beijing on Monday, engaged the Chinese government’s representatives and top officials of the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Limited in China, in a move described as the last lap of talks to secure final investment decisions and commence full-scale development of the Benin River Port project, the Benin Industrial Park and the Modular Refinery.
On the Edo State Government’s side were Obaseki with some of his aides; the Director-General of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Yewande Sadiku, acting Director General of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Secretariat, Alhaji Abdullateef Shittu, amongst others.
The project was expected to open the state up for foreign trade and boost local production, leveraging the state’s strategic location to attract investment and grow manpower.
Before leaving for China, Obaseki had approved the release of N700 million for the Benin Refinery project, which the state government is executing in partnership with a Chinese consortium.
With the initial investment capital approved, experts say the state government is well placed to seal the deals for the projects so that development work can commence in earnest.
The governor said the investment drive was to steer the state away from dependence on oil and set it on the path of prosperity anchored on a solid industrial base.
According to him, “we are excited about the Modular Refinery project and are certain that with our Chinese partners, we will begin work on the project in no distant time.
“The project is going to transform the state’s economy and position us as a hub for fabrication of refinery parts with the setting up of SIPS fabrication yard to groom local capacity in that sector.
“The Chinese government also made commitment to establish the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in China. The country fully supports the goal of basically achieving food security before 2030 as proposed by African countries, and will provide one billion yuan ($146.3 million) in emergency humanitarian aid to disaster-affected African countries.”
Meanwhile, the governor recently dispatched a team of officials, headed by his Special Adviser on Special Duties, Yakubu Gowon, to take a tour of areas affected by flash floods, occasioned by the heavy and persistent rainfall in the state.
The assessment, according to the government, was to ascertain the degree of destruction caused by the flood and deploy intervention to mitigate the impact of future rainfall.
Places visited by the government’s team included: Erediauwa Road linking Upper Sokponba and Sapele roads in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area; Ivbiotor, and Ehigiamusoe streets also in Ikpoba-Okha LGA. Others are: Akugbe and