By Dubem Okafor ([email protected])
In recent times, Anambra State has continued to improve in critical aspects of the society, leading to a solid plan to shore up the ease of doing business in the state.
Interestingly, as at 2010, a World Bank report listed Anambra, Imo and Ogun states as the “most difficult states for business operations in Nigeria.
In truth, one did not need a formal report from the World Bank to know that Anambra’s economic environment was hostile then. That was the period when kidnappers, violent armed robbers, child traffickers and vicious drug dealers reigned supreme across the landscape.
Many, prominent citizens kept a distance from the state, after freighting their aged parents away from home. Many successful businessmen and women relocated the headquarters of their businesses to Lagos, while quite a handful of them moved their homes across the Niger to Asaba.
In socio-economic terms, Anambra was in a state of anomie. The social environment was even worse, as traditional marriages were conducted in the cities.
Ironically, even when the hostility of the business climate was palpable, the basic structures that would have helped any daring investor who was willing to invest in the state were not in place. Basic business steps, like registering a company name, took 16 days in 2014.
Similarly, obtaining an approval for a building plan from Anambra State Urban Development Board took 30 days, while obtaining a Certificate of Completion from the same board took 21 days. To submit payment receipts for fees at the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Urban Planning and obtain governor’s consent took 181 days. And finally, to register a Deed of Assignment at the Land Registry took 14 days.
Happily, with Obiano’s assumption of office, all these indicators have so drastically changed that the government has now set its sights on bringing the indices further down to the lowest level. So, in line with this, Anambra has finalised plans to bring the registration of business that takes 16 down to only two days, while the process of obtaining an approval for a building plan from Anambra State Urban Development Board that took 30 days would come down to seven days before the end of this year.
Similarly, obtaining a Certificate of Completion from the same board that took 21 days in 2014 is expected to take only seven days this year, while the submission of payment receipts for fees at the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Urban Planning and obtaining governor’s consent that took 181 days in 2014 should take only 30 days before the end of 2017. And finally, the length of time it took to register a Deed of Assignment at the Land Registry that once took 14 days is now projected to take only four days.
It is instructive to note that this remarkable paradigm shift is being nurtured and sustained by the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), which has turned everything it touched in Anambra State in the past three years to gold.
It was in realisation of the phenomenal impact of this agency that Governor Obiano enthused over it thusly: “ANSIPPA is a one-stop investment powerhouse that has made doing business in Anambra State seem like a walk in the pack. Indeed, ANSIPPA has changed our once difficult processes and made Anambra friendly to investors. Ladies and gentlemen, that is the reason Anambra is today, a favourite destination of wise investors. This was confirmed in April this year when a consortium of Chinese investors agreed to build what may well become Nigeria’s first Airport City at Umueri, with an estimated investment value of over two billion US dollars.”
As Anambra continues to best new standards in investment drive and ease-of-doing business, ANSIPPA will continue to dominate the narrative, as the creative trigger that unleashed a new way of doing things on the people of South East Nigeria.