Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The federal government will within the next one year provide stable electricity to 80,000 shops, 320,000 micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) in 16 economic clusters across the country to help them improve their operations and significantly cut down cost.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, made this disclosure when he recently commissioned the 1.5 megawatts (MW) Sura Shopping Complex Independent Power Project (IPP) in Lagos State.
According to him, the government through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has commenced the implementation of its Energising Economies Initiative (EEI), which aims to provide efficient, clean and sustainable power to four economic clusters across Nigeria.
Osinbajo, explained that the initiative would have a transformative impact with the provision of reliable power supply to small and medium size enterprises by increasing their economic growth.
“Within the next year, over 80,000 shops and 320,000 MSMEs in 16 economic clusters serving at least 18 million Nigerians will be electrified; creating over 2,500 jobs in the process.
“In the coming years, Nigeria will experience massive economic growth; the Sura Shopping Complex is the flagship off grid power project that will help unleash Nigeria’s immense economic potential,” said Osinbajo.
Similarly, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who was at the ceremony, stated that the EEI was in line with the government’s plans to ensure that businesses in Nigeria enjoy stable electricity supplies.
Fashola said: “The Energising Economies Initiative further illustrates the commitment of the federal government to providing electricity to Nigerian businesses. Government cannot do it alone and we have been working closely with the private sector.
“Sura IPP represents small pockets of transformative change that will ultimately translate to significant economic development in Nigeria.”
In her remark, the Managing Director of REA, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi, stated that the Sura power system was built in collaboration with private sector operators who has the right competence. She noted that other markets would be electrified through the EEI.
“The Sura business experience has been completely transformed into a safe, clean, cost effective and business-friendly environment. This is the sort of progress FGN is committed to scaling through the Energising Economies Initiative.
“We are collaborating with qualified private sector developers to roll out off-grid electrification projects across the country – Sura is just the beginning of our success story,” Ogunbiyi, explained.
Accordingly, the Sura Shopping Complex in Lagos would take excess capacity power from Lagos Island Independent Power Plant through a dedicated underground distribution network built by Solad Power Holdings (SPH), a private developer.
SPH, it was disclosed also established a state-of-the-art customer service center which serves as a customer registration point, responds to all queries and resolves technical issues while providing hands-on after-sale services and installed smart meters in every shop.
Ogunbiyi, further stated that constant electricity at Sura Shopping Complex would transform business operations for its 1,047 shops.
She said the businesses providing food and catering services, financial services, printing and branding, retail and tailoring services, were a testament of how reliable power can enhance economic growth, adding that already, recipients are experiencing additional sales due to increased capacity and a growing work force.
Notably, she explained that Sura Shopping Complex had decommissioned over 700 generators reducing harmful greenhouse emissions.
With the shopping complex now boasting an improved business and customer-friendly environment, shop rentals at Sura Shopping Complex have increased by 15 per cent in just 70 days.
C’River to Roll-out First Locally Produced Toothpicks
The Director General of the Cross River Medium Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA), Dr Ignatius Atsu, has said the state produced toothpicks christened ‘Paradise toothpick,’ will soon be introduced into the market.
According to Atsu, the latest brand of toothpick are produced by the state-owned toothpick manufacturing company located in Ekori, the outskirts of the state capital.
Atsu, explained in a statement that the toothpick product which he said was the brainchild of Senator Ben Ayade, was made from the finest bamboo and under strict quality control conditions that met global standards.
He stated that the product is sold through accredited distributors who have been appointed including Evarite Farms and Resources Limited, Old Parliamentary village, Calabar, to cover the southern senatorial district including Akwa Ibom; Madobi pharmacy and general merchants Limited to cover all the states in the south-east and others in the south-south.
He also said another distributor WenWom Uka Osu Limited. Ikom – Calabar high way, Ugep, was appointed to cover the central and northern senatorial districts, adding that as production progresses, more distributors shall be appointed.
The Director-General also pointed out that to support the governor’s massive rice production drive, the agency recently identified rice production catchment areas and was set to acquire and deploy medium scale rice mills with capacity for the milling of 24 – 30 metric tonnes of rice per hour to these areas as part of its intervention process.
Speaking on opportunities already created by the governor’s initiative, Atsu pointed out that, “At the moment, the company has employed about 30 persons directly and several hundred others in its value chain that includes the supply of raw materials and factory consumables, distribution and marketing channels, transportation etc.
“Our plan is to take over the Nigerian market in the near future with our product which is the only environment-friendly toothpick produced in Nigeria with aesthetically beautiful and biodegradable packaging.
“It could also be recalled that the toothpick factory is one of the outcomes of Senator Prof Ben Ayade’s industrialisation initiatives.”
According to him, given the acceptance that greeted the introduction of the toothpick product, the governor has directed MEDA to add a second line to meet the anticipated growing demand.
He said by January, the plant’s installed capacity would triple its current output and would add additional jobs as well.
He noted that the agency had identified rice producing areas where rice farmers had resorted to moving their rice harvest at great cost to neighbouring states for milling because of the absence of such rice mills, adding that before the end of this quarter the governor would ensure that the identified communities are empowered to mill their own Christmas rice this December.
Meanwhile, in line with its vision to produce clothing that can compete with the best designs in the world, the Cross River State government’s owned garment factory in partnership with Blue Ocean of India, recently unveiled a new range of wears which included T-shirts, boxers, polo, shirts and trousers.
Speaking while inspecting the products at the Calabar Garment Factory, the governor, Prof Ben Ayade said he was proud of the quality of the wears from the factory, which he said will be launched during the 2018 Calabar Carnival.
While disclosing that the wears from the factory would go by the brand name, Callyphina, Ayade said it was the dream of his administration that the factory would dominate the T-shirt market in the country.
“If you look at the finishing and the detailed lining, you will see precision and expertise at work and if you look at the hemming and the final knitting, it just could be a Versace or Gucci or Dolce and Gabbana,” pointing out that “it is exactly the quality we aim to achieve and our hope is to exceed this,” he added.