Fubara: With $28.4bn GDP Comparable to Rwanda, Botswana, Rivers Open for Business

Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

Rivers State Governor, Mr. Siminalayi Fubara, yesterday, expressed the commitment of his administration to make the State the best place in the country to invest and do business by creating a vibrant, investor-friendly business environment.

He said Rivers State, which is the second largest economy in Nigeria, with a nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over $28.4 billion was fully ready for business.

He stated this while speaking at the ongoing Rivers State Economic and Investment Summit with the theme, “Rivers Emerge: Advancing Pathways to Economic Growth and Sustainability.”

Fubara said with the $28.4 billion GDP, the State’s economy ranks among the top 25 economies in Africa comparable to countries like Botswana, Rwanda, and Gabon.

He explained that the aim of the summit was to advance investment opportunities in the State, saying that it would provide an opportunity for the government to hear from the experts, exchange ideas, raise questions and receive answers to the economic and investment challenges faced in the state.

He expressed, “Historically, Rivers State, especially Port Harcourt, was an established commercial centre in Nigeria. The Trans-Amadi Industrial Layout hosted several thriving commercial and industrial concerns that created income, jobs, and prosperity for our State and people.

“Sadly, all that is now history as most of the industrial ventures in that estate have either closed shop or become moribund. The industrial estate is now characterised by abandoned factory buildings and warehouses.

“We have since lost our rating as one of the industrialised States and competitiveness as a preferred destination for domestic and foreign direct investments resulting in the continuous posting of low economic growth, high unemployment rate and slow development.

“For us, building a resilient, robust, and diversified economy holds the key to sustainable peace, security and progress of our State and the spiritual, social, and physical well-being of our people.”

Fubara, who reiterated that his administration was barely one year in office, added that the development of the state was paramount to his government and not political rivalry.

He said, “Against this background, I feel very optimistic that Rivers State will emerge from this summit and position itself as a premier investment destination, offering boundless economic opportunities for domestic and global investors.

“As a State, Rivers State is blessed with enormous human and natural resources, including oil and gas, fertile soil, solid minerals, and an extensive coastline with great water bodies.

“The State is the centre-point of the oil and gas industry in West Africa. We account for over 40 per cent of crude oil production onshore in the country and 100 per cent of liquefied gas that the country exports.

“The State also is the second largest economy in Nigeria, and with a nominal GDP of over $28.4billion, the State’s economy ranks in the top 25 economies in Africa comparable to countries like Botswana, Rwanda, and Gabon.”

The governor who also stated that Rivers State remains the economic heartbeat of the Niger Delta region adding, “our focus at this time is to grow our economy to greater heights so that we can derive more tax revenues to deliver quality social services to our people.

“Our mantra is ‘Rivers First’. Our covenant and commitment are to serve our people to the best of our ability with compassion, honesty, and responsibility.”

Furthermore, he assured that his government’s intentions are right, saying, “Our commitment is unwavering, and with the collaboration and support of all, we will collectively harness the economic potential of Rivers State to achieve considerably high and sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the coming decade and build a brighter future for our children and grandchildren.”

Fubara, commended the former governor of Cross River, Donald Duke for accepting to Chair the programme despite his tight schedule.

In his speech, Chairman of the summit, Donald Duke, noted that Rivers State was endowed with rich natural resources, but regretted the amount of gas flared could have been converted to meaningful resources that would attract more funds for the development of the state.

He said Nigeria should focus more on growth than concentrating on challenges of inflation, adding that the summit was a welcome development, which happened at a time when the nation is losing her grip on the economy.

“When we raise interest rate so high; today if you borrow you are not going to get money less than 35 per cent. That is a disincentive to growth.  “I believe growth, over a period would absolve inflation.  I am concerned because if a foreigner or foreign investor should bring a $100 million to invest, at the end of the year he or she will just go back with $122 million.

“Do we have the resources to sustain that high level of interest?  So, if we keep on focusing on inflation, I think we may miss the ball, but our focus should be more on growth and try to manage inflation at the same time, “he said

He recalled that, “In 1980, our population was about 72 million, the four years between 1979 and 1983, when Shagari was Head of State, the budget was about $25 billion. Forty-four years after, our population perhaps 230 million, our national budget is $19 billion.”

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