The 3rd edition of the Ogun State investors’ forum commenced yesterday with a welcome address by the Chairman of the organising committee the, Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Ms. Aderenle Adesina.
She highlighted the theme of this year’s event to be “Ogun State: The Emerging Economic Powerhouse” with special focus on three key sectors “Agriculture, Environment and Transportation”. She explained that participants will gain insight into various opportunities available in these sectors. She rounded up her session by stating the house rules.
Following the welcome address, Governor Ibikunle Amosun stated clearly that the Ogun State Investors forum was launched four years (that is 2012) ago with an aim to open up the state for business. He informed that the key points outlined in the communique at that time had all been achieved.
This year’s investors’ forum seeks to engage key stakeholders, particularly in the private sector on how opportunities inherent to the rapid urbanisation of the State can be harnessed. Amosun reiterated the importance of the three focus areas. In addition, he mentioned that the State has moved from the 35th position according to the ranking of the World Bank to the 5th position on ease of doing business in Nigeria.
He concluded by stating that the One-Stop-Shop to assist potential and existing investors is fully in operation.
Following Amosun’s address, his Special Adviser on Urban and Physical Planning, Steven Adewolu, presented the State’s regional development plan/zoning map which also highlighted where the natural resources of the State are located.
The first plenary session was on “The Economy – Navigating the Now, Harnessing the Future. The Lead Discussant, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance, started of her session with a slight reiteration to the title and craved the indulgence of the audience in restating it as “The Economy: Navigating the Now with an Eye of the Future”. She spoke about the need to diversify the Nigerian economy and be less dependent on oil. She also pointed out the need for government to reprioritise its expenditure and investment whilst aggressively reducing wastage. Concurring, other members of the panel stated that the State:
1. should develop clear economic policies to ensure active alignment and participation by key stakeholders;
2. encourage entrepreneurship and support the development of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises in the State;
3. Identify and build upon industries with comparative advantage, with particular attention on the value chain.
During the second plenary session led by Engr. Suliaman Adamu, Minister for Water Resources, Mrs. Ronke Sokefun, the Commissioner for Agriculture presented the investment opportunities available in the Agricultural sector of the State. Some of which include cocoa, oil palm, rubber, maize, cassava, rice production which needs to be tapped into. It was proposed and agreed by all that the state should focus on Agricultural value chain, Private Public Partnership, and Large- scale farming.
The Keynote address was delivered by HE, Cesar Gaviria Trujillo, former President of Colombia, Secretary General, Organisation of American States (1994-2004). He shared his perspective on some of the problems confronting Africa and advised Nigeria to learn from the experiences and mistakes made by Latin America especially Colombia. He emphasized the need for Nigeria to invest significantly in security and the judiciary system.
He mentioned amongst other things the need for Nigeria to tap into her abundant supply of natural gas. He also recommended that Nigeria should focus on Infrastructural development to partner with the private sector. He also recommended the abolition of fuel subsidy, improvement of the banking system and development of best agricultural practices just like Brazil.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in his remarks commended the Governor for the infrastructural development in the state as well as creating enabling environment for industries to grow. He acknowledged the appreciable growth of the State’s IGR and called on the State to be a pioneer for using concrete to build roads as the State is now the largest producer of cement in the country.
He called for leverage between the State and Federal Government in the area of Agriculture. He concluded by calling for more accountability amongst public officials.
The third plenary session on “Environment: Sustainable Development – A luxury or an imperative of emerging economies” was led by Ms. Amina Mohammed, the Hon. Minister of Environment. She stated the need to work on climate change especially as it affects the rising sea level, desertification. She called on the Private sector to examine its relationship with the people and how it affects the environment.
Concurring, the other members of the panel added that there is need to balance economic gains against environmental price, optimizing the reserve for the future and to pursue the ‘Waste to Energy’ plan.
The fourth and last session on “Transportation: Strategic infrastructure as a catalyst for socio-economic development” was led by Babatunde Raji Fashola, Hon. Minister of Works, Power and Housing. In his presentation, he stated that infrastructural development serves as a catalyst for industrial development. It leads to capital appreciation of properties and creates a recurrent income earning. He advised that State governments borrowing should be properly channelled into infrastructural development.
Members of the panel recommended that building roads or transportation infrastructure should be an interdisciplinary approach to ensure that the state meets the social needs of the people and ultimately deliver on what it is designed to do. They also stated that there is need to incorporate air transport in the state infrastructural terrain. Ogun does not need to depend on neighbouring states for the facilities it can develop.