Communique of the Enugu State investment summit

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His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. IfeanyiUgwuanyi, upon assumption to office in June 2015, inaugurated the Enugu State Economic Advisory Committee, to advise and guide the State on best economic policies that will help to promote sustainable economic growth.

To achieve this onerous task, the Enugu State Economic Advisory Committee, organised the maiden and milestone-marking edition of the Enugu State Investment Summit, Oganiru. The Summit themed “Beyond Oil: Fostering Inclusive EconomicGrowth and Sustainable Development” is expedient, especially in the light of dwindling oil revenues.

Key Objective of the Summit

 The general objective of the Summit was to provide an avenue where major actors in the public and private sector, international organisations, local and foreign investors as well as academic institutions will effectively engage to shape regional and industry agendas.

Specifically, the summit focused on practical and feasible ways on how government and the private sector can partner to maximise Enugu State’s potentials for growth in non-oil sectors of the economy.

Summit Overview

The Enugu State Investment Summit, Oganiru held from the 12th to 14th April 2016 at the Michael Opara Square, Independent Layout, Enugu witnessed the participation of about 1,300 summiteers. The Chief host of the event was the Executive Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. IfeanyiUgwuanyi while the Director General of Oganiru, Ike Chiokeand members of the organising committee, ensured the hitch-free coordination of the Summit.

Gracing the occasion with their presence were the Former Governors of Enugu State, Chief Jim Nwobodo and Sullivan Iheanacho Chime, Deputy governor of Anambra State, Dr.NkemOkeke, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Deputy Governor of Enugu State Hon. Cecilia Ezeilo.

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Delegates to the Summit includedsenior federal and state government functionaries, captains of industries, private sector practitioners, foreign and domestic investors, internationaldevelopment partners, members of the diplomatic corps, the clergy and members of local and international media.About 35 corporate organisations sponsored and exhibited their products and services during the summit.

A worthy-of-note aspect of the Summit was the award ceremony and gala night at which business leaders who have been instrumental in developing the viability of the economy, were honoured. In particular, post-humusawards were given to eminent 10 individuals of the South Eastern region including the Late Ojukwu, the Nwandus and others who have made significant contributions to the development of the State and the region.

One of the high-points of the Summit was the announcement by Air Peace Airline of its recent nomination as the national carrier by the Federal Government, to which Enugu will also benefit directly as a global business hub with its international airport.

The 3-day event was prepped on the arrival day, 11thApril with a Cultural Welcome Night for summiteers. The Summit was formally kicked off on Tuesday 12thApril with an Opening Ceremony featuring the Summit Opening Address delivered by the Executive Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. The Goodwill Address was delivered by the Honourable Minister for Power, Works and Housing, BabatundeRajiFashola, SAN who was ably represented while the Keynote Address was delivered by the Chairman, Heirs Holdings, Dr. Tony Elumelu.

The Summit featured Seven (7) Plenary Sessions,Ten (10) Panel Discussions, as well as Question and Answer sessions, focusing on the following:

  1. Agribusiness
  2. Hospitality and Tourism Management
  • Real Estate and Infrastructure Development
  1. Free Trade Zones Development
  2. Education and Skills Management
  3. The Creative Economy
  • South East Regional Economic Integration

KEY ISSUES AND OBSERVATIONS

 South East Regional Economic Integration

 The South Eastern Region is greatly endowed with natural and human resources, which when properly harnessed, have the capacity to fast-track the development of the region and place it as a national economic driver.

 Agribusiness

 The abundance of arable land in the State is a great potential yet to be harnessed due to inadequate utilization of the available land, dearth of information on funding opportunities and technology as well as challenges associated with storage and value addition.

Hospitality and Tourism Management

 Enugu State possesses most of the attributes for the tourism industry to thriveand becomethe greatest employer of labour. Worthy of note is the fact that almost all the top 20 economies in the world also have high indices in tourism.

 Real Estate and Infrastructure Development

 Enugu State, despite being the most peaceful state in the South-East region with a large expanse of land and good urban planning by the colonial masters is yet to fully tap into the real estate sector which has a very high potential to spur development.

 Free Trade Zones Development

 Critical factors demand the exploration of other sources for accelerating economic development. From the decline of Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC), and flat revenue from non-oil sectors, the concept of accelerating economic development through free trade zones is more pragmatic than ever before.

 Education and Skills Management

 Despite Nigeria being one of the fastest growing population in the world, there is an obvious unpreparedness in the education sector in terms of infrastructure, curriculum and technology to accommodate and cater for the needs of the emerging population in order to be globally competitive.

The proof of the above assertion is evident in the massive exodus of student for foreign universities, a practice which costs Nigeria over 1 billion dollars annuallyto international schools.

 The Creative Economy

 The role of new digital economy indevelopment cannot be over emphasized. Nollywood, and the entertainment industry in general,has placed Nigeria on the world map and has the potential to generate income and be a catalyst for development.

 HIGHLIGHTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FROM PLENARY AND DISCUSSIONS

 South East Regional Economic Integration

 The Enugu State Investment Summit should be the commencement of a conversation for regional integration which will deepen existing efforts such as the South East Nigeria Economic Commission (SENEC) and lead to the development of the bloc, as well as eventually serve as inspiration for the drafting of a blueprint for national development.

States in the South Eastern region of the country should think in terms of regional integration by:

  1. promoting harmonization of taxation and other fiscal policies across the region
  2. building inter-state infrastructure
  3. providing adequate security
  4. creating regional incentives to attract national and foreign direct investments
  5. encourage philanthropism from wealthy indigenes of the region

 Agribusiness

 The summit emphasized that Enugu state is being opened up to potential investors. The State Government expressed commitment to partner with Federal government organs such as the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) in the area of agribusiness which has huge potentials to generate employment, create wealth and provide food security.

Hospitality and Tourism Management

 Enugu State or any state in the South East Region has the capacity to generate up to one million tourists within a year which will invariably reposition the State as a top tourism destination. By adopting the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) approach, the State will invest in the construction of a large convention centre that will attract world class events to the state.

 Real Estate and Infrastructure Development

 It is imperative for the State Government to consciously and consistently partner with the private sector in developing the real estate in the State. The role of the government includes the provision of incentives such as reduced bureaucracy, basic infrastructure and waivers that will spur real estate development and attract other forms of investments to the state.

 Free Trade Zones Development

 The concept of ‘IRU’: Infrastructure, Rapid and Reliable Foreign Direct Investment and Unique focus on competitive advantage, is the key to the growth and acceleration of the economy. By shifting focus beyond the oil sector, there is a need for Enugu State and the South-East region to look introspect on how to harness the process of development through the Free Trade Zone. Therefore, the Empower Free Trade Zone in Enugu is a major catalyst for change and transformation of the South-East.

 Education and Skills Management

 Radical reforms in the education sector can deliver great benefits and contribute to the growth of the economy. Such reforms should incorporate the use of ICT in order to be globally competitive.  With over 13 institutions of higher education, Enugu State can invest in its education sector such that it attracts students from other states of the Federation as well as international students.

The enormous skill gap in the power sector is an opportunity to create skills and ultimately jobs for the youths. Skills in the power sector through the National Training Institute (NAPTIN), can cater for hundreds of thousandssecondary school leavers who cannot get into university and polytechnics.

 The Creative Economy

 The Enugu State Government was advised to explore public private partnerships for the development of the creative and entertainment industry in the State. Some projects may include the creation of Nollywood theme parks, promotion of local artistes, setting up of academies of training for the industry and creating incentives for the sector.

CONCLUSION

It was a general consensus that the historical first edition of the Enugu State Investment Summit held from the 12th to 14th April 2016 at the Michael Opara Square, Enugu recorded a tremendous success.

Bringing the Summit to a close, the Executive Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. IfeanyiUgwuanyi highlighted that the event had marked the beginning of giant development strides in the State, the South Eastern Region and by extension, Nigeria.

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