… as Obaseki’s reforms open state to big ticket investors

Edo State’s retail sector is experiencing a boom on account of reforms by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration, which has eased up the process of setting up new businesses in the state.

A survey of the new entrants into the retail space shows that not less than five popular retail brands have opened shops or expanded operations in Edo State in the last three years, including Genesis Cinemas, Dominos, Market Square, JARA Stores, Reign Arcade, Ford Mart and Shoprite, which is due to commence operations in a matter of weeks.

Some of the business reforms initiated by the government include setting up of the Edo State Investment Promotion Office (ESIPO), a one-stop shop that promotes ease of doing business in the state; the Edo State Geographic Information Service (EDOGIS), which processes Certificate of Occupancy (C-of-O) in about 30 days; the Public Private Partnership (PPP) office and other private sector-facing agencies in the state.

A cross-section of residents in the state who spoke to journalists said the new entrants have redefined the retail experience in the state.

An economist, policy analyst and lecturer at the University of Benin, Mr. Nosakhare Ikponmwosa, said that the new investors are responding to the government’s reforms which have made investment seamless.

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“There has been a strong shift to attract private investors and it has increased competition in the economy. A lot of the old players are improving their services to measure up to the new entrants. So, the competition is healthy,” Ikponmwosa said.

“Another implication of this is that a lot of local suppliers to these superstores have had to improve the packaging of their goods. The improved package ensures standards and also opens these producers to more markets,” he said.

A businessman, Mr. Darlington Osawe, said businesses in Edo State are really excited by the new trend of popular retail stores coming into the state.

“The shopping experience has changed. We now have well-stocked shops, with local and international brands on display. It is a boost for the local economy and a testament to the growth being experienced in the state,” he said.

A trader, Mrs. Ruth Igbinosa, noted that the expansion of the retail traders in the state is evidence that the market is viable and that a lot of local producers are meeting the new standards being set.