…in agriculture, culture and tourism, entertainment, energy, others

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has said nuanced reforms by his government to rejig the state’s economy, support investment inflow and guarantee an enabling environment for business growth led to the growth of the state’s economy from about $10bn to over $26bn in the last seven and a half years.

Speaking to journalists in Benin City, the governor explained that the reforms cut across various sectors of the State’s economy including agriculture, culture and tourism, entertainment, and energy, among others.

According to him, “When I assumed office, in terms of GDP, the economy was about $10.6 billion but today, at the last count, it was about $26 billion. We have doubled tremendously. The important thing is what has led to this?

“We have been able to attract substantial investments and investors by just creating the enabling business environment. Today, the main contributor to our GDP is agriculture. What have we done with agriculture? We looked around and said, where do we have the competitive advantage?

“We are the home of oil palm, so we went back to the drawing board and asked ourselves what to do with this asset. We went to Malaysia and everywhere else and decided to start a programme to develop our oil palm. Even though we had Okomu and Presco here, the two largest agric companies quoted on the Stock Exchange, let’s do more; let’s double the acres under cultivation.

Related News

“So, we set up an oil palm programme, not just allocating lands, it’s a programme where we decided to provide a certain amount of land for the cultivation of oil palm because oil palm is a very prolific crop; there is no waste. So, we did it in two phases. In the first phase, we did a forest audit.

“We identified degraded forest lands that will never be able to grow back as forest and I took that and we got over 120,000 hectares of such and then began to prepare them for oil palm cultivation. We did the survey, and made sure that under the programme we got certification from a body called RSPO, the global body responsible for promoting sustainable oil palm production, because if you don’t have the certification and they don’t certify your oil palm to make sure that in producing that palm, you didn’t deforest, you didn’t treat communities improperly, some companies like Unilever, PZ and others will not touch your palm.

“We made sure that Edo State qualified under that programme and today we have over ten companies that we have allocated land to and they are preparing their nurseries, including firms like Dufil Prima Foods, the makers of Indomie Noodles; Saro Oil Palm; Flour Mills Nigeria Plc; an American Company called Fayus, and Saturn Farms, among others. I mean they are all there. The first phase is in Orhionmwon; the next phase is going to be in Ovia, which we are preparing now.”

On other sectors, the governor stated, “Don’t also forget that Edo has hydrocarbon assets, particularly gas. Remember we executed the 450MW Azura deal and the 95MW Ossiomo Power project, which is bigger than that of Abia State. What they are doing now, we have done a long time ago, and all of these are to attract investors.

“In the area of entertainment, film, music, we created the Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub and we are attracting a lot of Nollywood producers to come and produce in Edo State. Also, because we reformed our geographical information system, we can now get data and are working hard on mining. Since I got into office, Dangote has opened a cement company, BUA has expanded.”

He added, “There are a lot of economic activities going on in Edo State. We have about eight Chinese companies in Benin City alone, all producing tiles, glass, and iron sheets, among others all from local raw materials because we have electricity.”