- By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
God willing, and other things being equal, the ground breaking for Enyimba Economic City will be performed sometime in 2022. This hope is drawn from the recent visit of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu to President Muhammadu Buhari at Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
The governor in the meeting briefed the President on the developments on the Enyimba Economic City project and informed him of the next plans for the project.Gov. Ikpeazu ceased the opportunity of the visit to thank the President for the support given by the federal government to the project, particularly the 20 per cent stake taken up by the federal government in the project and the consistent approvals given by relevant federal government authorities to important applications made on behalf of the project after fulfilling all legal and other relevant requirements.
Gov.Ikpeazu further informed that all the international financial institutions involved in the project, from the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the African Development Bank to the Afrexim Bank, had fulfilled their obligations to the project,adding“with this development, all investors in the project are expected to crystallise their investments while the formal ground-breaking of the Enyimba Economic City project is expected to be performed by the President between the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second quarter of 2022.
On the other hand, President expressed satisfaction with the developments and renewed the commitment of the federal government to the project.
It will be recalled that several efforts have been deployed by both Abia State and federal governments in their bids to actualise the project. one of the efforts is the signing of the Definitive Agreements .Definitive Agreements are documents defining the final terms of an agreement between buyer and seller, typically of a company’s assets or stock.
In the words of President Muhammadu Buhari who witnessed the signing of the document, “such initiatives were exactly what his administration was looking for to create employment for the people and boost the economy”.
Enyimba Economic City project is a private public partnership (PPP) of Crown Realties Plc, the host communities, Abia, and the federal government, targets over 625,000 jobs, urban housing of over 300,000 units, urban population of more than 1.5 million people. It is also projected to provide more than 2,000 industrial/ business units, with estimated annual value output of more than $5 billion.
According to Gov Okezie Ikpeazu, Aba, the location of the project,” is strategically located for easy access from all south-east and south-south states”.The governor added that “Aba alone has over 250,000 artisans engaged in various arts and trades; the Enyimba City zone covers three local governments of the state. The project would not only be of immense benefit to Abia state but to the entire region and country.”
The economic benefits of the project cannot be overemphasised. Aba, the economic hub of Abia State is blessed with over 250,000 artisans engaged in various arts and trades, and that the Enyimba City zone covers three local governments of the state.
The project is a Private Public Partnership (PPP) initiative of Abia State Government and Crown Realties PLC, Under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) of Enyimba Industrial Development Company Limited, under which it is proposed to develop a new Industrial Township in Aba, spanning from Akwa Ibom State boundary of Abia State to Imo State boundary, on a West/ East of Enugu/PortHacourt highway and covering 9600 hectares to include industrial park, logistics, entertainment village, medical, ICT hubs, among others.It is also designated as a Special Economic Zone by the Federal Government and will have Free Trade Zone status with the intention of connecting South-East states and four out of the six states in the south south.
The vision of the project is to develop a connected global business hub in southeast Nigeria; the mission is to create economic hub central to the nine southeast and south south states linked with high grade access roads, rails, airport and seaports that will transform the region into a manufacturing and industrial powerhouse, with ancillary drivers of commerce, logistics, entertainment, education, health and lifestyle living.
In the Advisory Board of Enyimba Economic City Development are seasoned administrators and technocrats such Pascal Dozie Chairman, C. Darl Uzu Vice Chairman/CEO, Barth Nnaji, Abraham Nwankwo, Emmanuel Adaelu. Others are Adolphus Wabara, Anya O. Anya, Sam Nwaogu, Paul Ananaba, SAN, Empire Kanu, Tom Aguiyi Ironsi, Ugochukwu Okoroafor, Austin Ufomba, and Chibuzor Ekwekwuo.
It is important to note here that one of the designs of the project is to close economic gap between Port-Harcurt and Aba which constitute two energetic centres in the South East and South South regions.
Like Gov. Ikpeazu rightly posited:”If we close the gap, what it means is that there is a fusion in terms of creating a new hub that can compare with what you see in Dubai today.
“I have moved on from made in Aba to make in Aba; Aba people and Abia people and Nigerians are capable of producing things.
“So, we are now saying come and make, come and produce; we have created an environment that we can say is good enough.”
Some of the infrastructure to be provided in the city include a gas basin because of the abundant gas deposits in the state and a narrow gauge rail line, which will link Abonima wharf and Onne wharf in Port-Harcourt to Aba.
It also note worthy to recall that Abia State in the recent past has also completed the design for a 17 kilometre of road within Enyimba Economic City, which will be done by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and Group Five of South Africa.
This project is apt now that nations of the world are diversifying to the non-oil sector. For instance, Saudi Arabia’s 10th Development Plan, for the period 2015-19, emphasises the need to diversify the country’s economy and reduce its reliance on oil, which accounts for 90% of fiscal revenues and 80% of export revenues, and also highlights the need to provide livelihoods for future generations. Industrial enterprises that can add value to the Saudi economy in this way will find businesses in the Kingdom keen to engage in joint ventures, and will also be able to tap government funds and land to facilitate project development.
Also, the Saudi Arabian Company for Industrial Investment was formed in 2014 with SR2bn ($533m) in capital and will invest SR7.5bn ($2bn) in the next five years in a programme targeting conversion industries that rely on non-oil manufactured products, including petrochemicals, plastics, fertilisers and steel. The company is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and the Public Investment Fund.
This gives credence to the statement credited to President Buhari during the signing if the Definitive Agreements that” such initiatives were exactly what his administration was desperately looking for to create employment for the populace and boost the national economy”.
On this note, Abians should join the President in commending Gov Ikpeazu for initiating the project. Indeed, Gov. Ikpeazu is rebuilding Abia!