By Kunle Somorin
The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), in its 2021 second quarter report for investment announcement, put the estimated investment into Ogun State at $500 million, making the state the preferred investment destination representing 30 per cent of the total announcement in Q2. Lagos State, with $441.3 million worth of investment announcement representing 26 per cent, was second in the quarter under review.
Curiously, the NIPC report showed that 14 projects were covered in the investment announcement in manufacturing, energy, information and communication, as well as real estate. Anybody who is familiar with events in Ogun since May 29, 2019, will agree that the state’s rising investment profile does not owe to happenstance.
From the get go, the state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, was keen on exploring the opportunities presented by Ogun’s geo-location. To Gov Abiodun, the state’s proximity to Lagos, its gateway status to the West African market through Benin Republic and sharing either land or water (or both) boundaries with five neighbouring states should propel the state into economic prosperity.
However, the governor also understood that, for the state to convert its strategic opportunity into tangible gains, it had to commit to investing in infrastructure, technology, human capital and strong structural institutions. Within Prince Abiodun’s first year in office, Ogun investment drive was already technology-driven, with tech and ICT hubs and incubation centres providing the necessary know-how to catalyse economic growth. The Ogun State Government has also established investment agencies, such as the Ogun State Enterprise Development Agency (OGSEDA), to provide entrepreneurial literacy services, capacity development and access to start-up capital to support Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
At the 2020 United Kingdom Economic Summit – Focus on Africa, Prince Abiodun made a strong case for investing in Ogun and outlined his administration’s efforts put in place to ensure Ogun was Nigeria’s top investment destination. Interestingly, a good number of investment initiatives so far have been in sectors such as power, infrastructure, agro-processing, technology and real estate. This is reflective of the same initiatives and sectors the NIPC quoted in its Q2 report on investment announcement.
Except anyone wants to discountenance cause and effect, this cannot be a co-incidence. Whether it is OCP Africa, a Moroccan-based multinational investing a total of N9billion in fertilizer blending plant with a production capacity of over 600,000metric tons, or Terratiga Limited, an investor from Netherland investing in animal feeds with a production capacity of 100 tons per day and 1.2million tones per annum, one thing is certain about Ogun as an investment destination – ease of doing business has truly been enhanced under Gov Abiodun.
Ogun State’s standing on the World Bank ease of doing business index kept improving since it was ranked 12th among 37 states in 2018. One of the measures attributed to this continued improvement was the establishment of Business Environment Council in September 2019. The council has been implementing reforms aimed at harmonising and streamlining regulations for industrial development in the state.
Gov Abiodun recently told virtual participants at the Nigeria-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) webinar that the people of the state would continue to build their future together by constantly seeking to improve how business is conducted in the state.
“We continue to make efforts to improve the state’s ranking on the local and global ease of doing business index so as to promote and encourage local and foreign direct investment in the state. We consequently distilled our vision into our five developmental pillars with acronym ISEYA. We embarked on the implementation of the pillars with the ‘I’ for Infrastructure which is very fundamental and relates to other pillars and enablers,” he said.
The governor also spoke about policy and regulatory reforms, including the restructuring of land acquisition process to remove all bottlenecks and red tapes. The Ogun State Land Administration and Revenue Management Systems is being implemented to digitalise land acquisition for both ease and efficiency, with an upgraded Geographic Information System (GIS) for a more transparent land administration.
Perhaps the most ambitious effort at boosting Ogun state’s investment profile is the massive investment in road construction. Before now, one of the most horrendous impediments to attracting investors to the state was the poor state of its roads. Activities around primary production and transportation of raw materials to secondary production sites were at the mercy of bad rural and urban roads, thereby discouraging small businesses.
However, roads across the state are being aggressively constructed or rehabilitated. One of Prince Abiodun’s first moves as governor was to establish the Ogun State Roads Maintenance Agency (OGROMA). The decision of the governor to also ask each ward across the state to nominate roads that would attract immediate intervention led to the establishment of the Ogun State Public Works Agency (OGPWA).
Between January and June alone, the state had spent a total of N7.38billion on roads construction and rehabilitation, because Gov Abiodun is a firm believer in investing in good roads as an impetus for industrialisation and attracting investment.
• Somorin is Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Dapo Abiodun