Alaghodaro 2022 and Edo’s Investable Opportunities for Wealth Creation
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Alaghodaro 2022 and Edo’s Investable Opportunities for Wealth Creation

By Mark Itsibor

Alaghodaro summit where investors (local and foreign), entertainers and government functionaries meet to share business ideas in line with the Edo State government’s resolve to consolidate on building a private sector-led economy is beefing up a special edition for this year. People from all walks of life are expected to use the conference to connect, share ideas and sign deals on industrial revolution for wealth and job creation.

The annual summit seeks to find ways to help Edo State and Nigeria at large unlock the constraints to business opportunities by seeking best ways to enable economic growth. Beyond the huge potentials for businesses, the summit would help to showcase the many investable opportunities in Edo State.

As the 3-day summit kicks off on November 11, 2022 with the theme, ‘Edo’s Transformation: Partnerships, Resilience, Impacts,’ leading names in the nation’s public and private sectors have lined up to tap from what the state governor’s aid on media projects, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, describes as a celebration of the success of the last six years, unveiling of new frontiers for existing and new investors and a mirror into what would be an industrial hub of the South-South region.

The Governor Godwin Obaseki-led government in the state does not only use the occasion to showcase the progress being recorded in transforming the ascent city to an industrial hub. This time, there are indications that the governor and his administration have a lot more on their braglist to offer to the hundreds of investors that would throng Benin, the state capital, to attend this year’s edition of the programme.

A peep into the governor’s list of investable opportunities to the suitors from across the globe include the fact that Edo State plays host to various natural and human resources. It may not boast of the equal market, but the state is rich enough to produce for millions of Nigeria’s market and even export.

According to official information, the summit has attracted not less than $2bn worth of investment across different sectors of the state’s economy. This is spread across agriculture, food processing, manufacturing, energy and petrochemicals, among others.

The $500 million Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) is one of the star projects in the state coupled with the injection of about $250m by Saro Africa Group of Companies, among others.

Globally renowned investors, including the Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu and Chairman of Caverton Offshore Support Group Plc, Dr. Aderemi Makanjuola, among many others are set to converge on Edo State for the 2022 Alaghodaro Economic Summit, scheduled to take place in Benin City, the Edo State capital.

Others are the Founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Dr. Atedo Peterside; Founder, Silverbird Group, Ben Murray-Bruce; Founder of Persianas Nigeria Limited, Tayo Amusan and the Managing Director, Saro International, Dr. Rasheed Sarumi, among many others.

When the summit is called next week, Governor Obaseki and his team are expected to sell the ideas and programmes for the investors to entrust their portfolios for the greater good of the nation’s economy.

Some of the issues that would form the discourse include power sector reforms, as Managing Director of the Ossiomo Power Company, Dr. Uwa Igiehon would be expected to share insights at the Edo investment summit.

He built Ossiomo Power Company from initial 50MW to 95MW, with the facility providing electricity to government establishments, streetlights and industrial clusters in the state.

Igiehon has garnered experience as a first-mover investor in the state, taking the risk to build the Ossiomo Power plant after the signing of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the state government.

The Edo State government obviously has a lot in its vault to offer the investors. Let’s look at the investable opportunities in a brief.

Not a few people believe that Edo State is well placed to be the first choice location for power projects in Nigeria. That cannot be faulted after all.

For example, the state has access to a secure and reliable source of gas. With substantial mature and proven domestic gas reserves; and some locations about 1km away from the path of the country’s main gas trunkline, the Escravos Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS), with a visible access to evacuation capacity to the electricity grid.

Those who see Benin as one of the country’s key nodal points for evacuation with the city located within a radius of multiple high voltage transmission interconnections, point to the fact that its close proximity to Koko Port in neighboring Delta State, which has a proven capacity to handle the inward shipment of the heavy equipment required at the site is one of the major reasons Edo State should be a choice for investment destination.

*Agro opportunity*

Edo State has three ecological zones: in the south, the rainforest, with some mangrove swamp; in the central, a little rain forest and savannah; and in the north, more savannah and a little rain forest. The vegetation belts of the state can be generalized into: Freshwater Swamp, Lowland Rain Forest and Derived Savanna.

The state has good climatic conditions and ecological conditions that have given ground to a blossoming agricultural sector that needs to be commercialised on a large scale. The state enjoys almost nine months of rainfall in the southern part of the state.

The state is in dire need of investors to process and add value to the prominent crops grown in the state that include rubber, oil palm, cashew, cassava, rice, maize and cocoa for export and earn more Forex for the nation’s low reserves.

The state has an estimated 1.1 – 1.6 million hectares of cultivable land, accounting for 70% of its total land mass. The state derives an estimated 40% of its revenue from proceeds from agriculture.

Growing the potential of agriculture in the state has been a priority for the state government. There have been numerous initiatives aimed at engaging the youths in agriculture.

The Edo Fertilizer Plant and Chemical Company in Auchi can comfortably meet the demand from neighbouring Ondo, Delta, Kogi and other states if it’s well developed.

Another product is Rubber which is grown massively in Esan, Owan, Orhionmwon, AkokoEdo, Ovia and Uhunmwode areas of the state. The state also houses the Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria, Iyanomo, Edo State.

Rice, the most consumed food commodity in Nigeria, is grown in the state in commercial quantities in Ekpoma, Ilushi, Agbede, Agenebode and surrounding areas.

The state grows over 200million tonnes of cassava annually, but absence of a significant number of processing and storage facilities is undermining the economic value of the product.

Apart from that, Pineapples are also grown in Ehor LGA. The state is the largest producer of oil palm in the country, also housing the National Institute for Oil Palm Research NIFOR.

*Industrial Clusters*

The state boasts of Igarra solid mineral processing zone that has huge deposit of solid minerals that makes mining and solid mineral processing a significant growth opportunity; and Agenebode Agribusiness zone: agriculture and proximity to the River Niger supports the development of food production a processing hub; Gele Gele agro-industrial park.

Ossiomo (ologbo) petrochemical park is an industrial park by Ossiomo Investment Ltd, with phase 1 marine facility already developed; and Okpella Cement cluster that is currently being operated by Dangote Cement and Bua Group. The huge limestone deposit in the area is one with the capacity to more than double the current production capacity.

*Arts, Culture and Tourism*

The potential investors are also expected to take advantage of the Benin bronze sculptures and the ubiquitous Art galleries in the state. The state is in the process of reviving and rebranding, an area with special needs to make Nigeria one of the best tourist attractions of the globe.

The state reportedly has a lot to offer in performing arts, as the state is famous for the numerous troupes and groups including the Edo Cultural Group, Uyi Edo Theatre Group, Inneh troupe, to mention a few.

The current administration has restated its commitment to revitalize tourism as witnessed by the unveiling of Edo Tourism Master Plan.

According to reports, the Aba festival held in Igarra, Akoko Edo LGA boosted the economy with 450 million Naira injected by the over one million people who graced the occasion.

*Benin River Port*

The Benin River Port has the potential to bring more economic activities to the state. China Harbor has signed a memorandum of Understanding with the state government to execute the project. The government has assured that Security is guaranteed, as the government strengthens ties with the navy and police.

The government is seeking to get additional funding arrangements to facilitate the actualization of the project. It remains to be seen if more investors would be open to the areas of attraction in the sector.

As the government makes efforts to open up the state’s creative industry for investors would be on parade after the state successfully secured deals for production of not less than 50 films in partnership with ROK Studios.

The founder of ROK Studios, Mrs. Mary Njoku, is one of the guests expected to speak on a panel on ‘Capitalizing on Opportunities in Edo State,’ during the three-day economic summit, taking place in Benin City, the state capital.

Some of the others at the 3-day conference include Commissioner, Ministry of Housing, Urban and Regional Planning & Development, Isoken Omo and Managing Director, Dufil Prima Foods, Madhukar Khetan.

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