Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki said that Edo State is the most digitally connected state in Nigeria. They are accelerating rapidly in the industrial space and taking the lead in oil palm cultivation and production.
Obaseki made this assertion during the BusinessDay CEO Forum 2023. The forum was held under the theme “Charting a Course to Growth and Development.” The event occurred at the Ballroom, Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, on July 13 2023.
Obaseki spoke alongside the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina. The Group President of MTN, Ralph Mupita also attending this year’s edition of the BusinessDay CEO Forum. They spoke on ‘Building Edo Into an Industrial, Commercial and Investment Hub’. Governor Obaseki intimated to the audience his administration’s steps to aid the state’s commerce, industry and enterprise.
Speaking on the digital revolution in the state, Obaseki stressed his government’s efforts to connect all 18 local government areas of the state with fibre optics.
According to Obaseki, “We are very strong on Technology. Today, I believe Edo is the most connected state, digitally, in Nigeria. By October this year, we will have completed 1600km of fibre optic connections to all the local governments in the state. By the 1st quarter of next year, we expect to construct another 300km, linking all our secondary schools and primary healthcare centres.”
The Governor further highlighted key industrial areas where the state has achieved significant milestones and attracted private sector partners.
Obaseki said: “In terms of industry today, the first phase of the Benin Enterprise Park has already been completed, about 50 hectares by the Nigerian Local Content Development Board, and we are working with other developers to see how we can expand interests and investments.
“We have also attracted investors in the area of modular refineries. We have two refineries in Edo state; one that we partner with the Chinese on and another that the Local Content Board supported.
“The industrial scale ethanol plant, from cassava, is another interesting project with another partner, and it will be ready by the 4th quarter of this year. We allocated the cultivation of cassava. We also provided land to construct a 400 metric tonnes per day cassava plant in Ologbo.”
Speaking on the Benin Port project, Obaseki said: “After almost 70 years of talking about rebuilding our ports, we finally got a preferred bidder to come to work with us, that is, Mota Engil Africa. Designs are complete, and we expect to commence construction before the first quarter of next year.”
Obaseki, who also highlighted giant strides by his administration in agriculture, stated that Edo State currently has one of the biggest oil palm projects on the continent. According to him, “Our goal has been to de-risk Agriculture. For us as a government, our business is not business. It is not to compete with the private sector. It is to support the private sector.
“So, we have approached it to help with land acquisition. Beyond helping you acquire land, we engaged the communities, using our political networks to ensure that you can access the allocated land and then support workforce training.
“We are building a College of Agriculture, in which our agricultural partners are members of the governing council of that school so that they can help us define the programmes, the quality and the type of workforce for their use.
“Our priority crops are oil palm. We have one of the biggest oil palm projects on the continent. We have allocated 62,000 hectares to about 7 companies. They are cultivating, and we will go through another lot this year for another 60,000 hectares.”
Obaseki identifying forestry as another major state resource, spoke on the state government’s efforts towards forest reclamation. He noted that the state had suffered massive deforestation in the past. However, his administration is working with some agencies to attract capital into reforestation.
Obaseki said: “I want to launch one of the most aggressive reforestation programmes on the continent. We are starting with about 10,000 hectares this year, and I hope we can recover another 200,000 hectares of forest in the next 5 years.”
Dignitaries present at the event include:
- The wife of the Edo State Governor, Her Excellency Mrs. Betsy Obaseki.
- Founder/Editor, Business Day, Frank Aigbogun.
- President, African Development Bank, Dr. Femi Adesina.
- Jigawa State Governor, His Excellency, Alhaji Umar Namadi.
- A host of others.