Rivers, investment haven for prospective investors — Gov. Fubara

…Earmarks $10m to boost agric value chain

Barth Ndubuwah, Port Harcourt

The Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has said that a more vibrant investment-friendly environment has been created to reassure investors of requisite return on their investments.

The Governor maintained that his administration is taking measures to ensure that those numerous production factories that shut down operations in the State returned because of the renewed commitment to re-industralise the State.

Governor Fubara gave the assurance Wednesday during the opening ceremony of a two-day Rivers State Economic and Investment Summit (RSEIS), with the theme: “Rivers Emerge: Advancing Pathways to Economic Growth and Sustainability,” which held at Dr Obi Wali International Conference Centre in Port Harcourt.

The Governor insisted that the various measures taken were to make Rivers emerge as the premiere investment destination for all categories of investors.

 ”We have already implemented certain policy initiatives and reforms, including the prompt allocation and issuance of land titles and certificates of occupancy to prospective investors and a moratorium on State taxes and levies on new businesses.

“We are also working on the harmonisation of State and Local Government taxes to eliminate double taxation and the imposition of multiple levies on investors.

“Two weeks ago, we launched the N4 billion matching fund loan scheme with the Bank of Industry Limited for small, micro, and medium-scale businesses to drive financial inclusion and enhance the growth and development of these businesses to grow our economy, create jobs and wealth for our people.

“We have signed a development agreement with TAF Nigeria Limited for the construction of 20,000 mixed houses in the Greater Port Harcourt City. We signed another development pact with GOSH Nigeria Limited for the construction of an international automobile spare parts trading and commercial market,” the Governor explained.

 ”The State Government provided hundreds of hectares of land as its equity and work has since started at both sites. Apache Aluminium LLC of America has started the acquisition of land to establish a multi-billion-naira aluminium rolling mill (plant) in the Ogoni axis of Rivers State.

“We have opened discussions with Imagine Adama Agricultural and Technology of Israel to support the State in developing our huge agricultural potential, including reviving abandoned agricultural projects and infrastructures such as the Rivers Songhai Farm, the School-to-Land farms, fish farms, feed mills, oil palm estates and poultry farms across the State. We have earmarked about $10million for this project this fiscal year.

“Last week, the State Executive Council approved the proposal by Rainbow Heritage Group to build the New Port City in the State on about 1,000 hectares of land in collaboration with the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority.

“We have also concluded arrangements for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Planet One Holding Limited of Dubai for a $10million Mangrove Forests Conservation and Carbon Capture Project under the Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement,” he added.

Governor Fubara emphasised that “Rivers State provides several investment opportunities across diverse sectors of our economy, including oil and gas, agriculture and agro-processing.”

The State also prides itself, he said, in manufacturing, hospitality and tourism, education, ICT, and healthcare, infrastructural development, glass products and garments production, power generation and transmission, among many others.

Governor Fubara also said that with over 40 percent of fertile cultivable landmass, Rivers State has the potential to make a significant contribution to national food security with commercial investments in mechanised agriculture and the agro-processing industrial value chains.

“Several state-owned but moribund companies, farmlands, and business infrastructure, including oil palm estates, rubber plantations, poultry, and fish farms are available for interested private investors to take over and revitalize,” the Governor added.

He, however, lamented that for years, the Rivers State Government depended more on allocations from the Federation Accounts to fund its expenditures because tax revenues had remained low due to poor investments and economic growth.

The Governor stated that, “It is for this reason, that there is a resolve to build a resilient, robust, and diversified economy that will hold the key to sustainable peace, security and progress of our State and the spiritual, social, and physical well-being of our people.

“We, therefore, commit to the re-industrialisation of Rivers State in partnership with the informal and organised private sectors through necessary policies, legal, and other support measures, and systems.

“This was why we approved the Rivers State Economic and Investment Summit 2024 as the first of several measures to unveil the economic potential of the State to both local and foreign investors and markets.

“Against this background, I feel very optimistic that Rivers State will emerge from this summit and position itself as a premier investment destination, offering boundless economic opportunities for domestic and global investors,” he stressed.

Governor Fubara explained efforts made to create a robust climate of ease of doing business in the State, including harmonising and reducing double taxation, which he said weighed down businesses.

He also said that an Investment Promotion Agency has been established that will serve as a one-stop-shop to coordinate all investment activities.

“Furthermore, we have also approved the establishment of the Rivers State Investment Promotion Agency to provide one-stop-shop investment services and facilitation to investors in the State.

“In the first year of our administration, we received an appreciable number of expressions of interest from local and foreign investors to invest in diverse sectors of our economy, including agriculture, real estate, power generation, and manufacturing,” the Governor added.

Chairman of the occasion and former Governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke, said the summit signalled a rebirth of commitment to correcting previous investment errors and to build an enduring foundation upon which to anchor implementation of deliberate policies to moving Rivers State forward.

Mr Duke said the Nigerian Government should stop the mere celebration of the large population size of the country, and begin to ensure that its citizens are trained to become productive and contribute to the nation’s economy in order to attain the zenith of economic growth for the country.

He advised the Rivers State Government, and indeed, all sub-nationals to look into harnessing their areas of comparative advantage so that they can strengthen those areas to become economically buoyant.

Delivering his goodwill message, Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, who was represented by the Secretary to State Government, Mr Nimibofa Ayawei, said they were delighted to be part of the summit geared towards finding a pathway to achieving economic prosperity of Rivers State, and pledged the continued partnership that will expand the investment frontiers of both states.

In his keynote address, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof Kingsley Moghalu, said that because of the prevalence of poor governance in Nigeria, the human and natural resources abundant in the country have not been sufficiently harnessed to achieve the desired prosperity.

He particularly advocated the implementation of well-meaning policies that will dismantle all the barriers to doing business while also promoting transparency and building investors’ confidence.

Prof. Moghalu said, added to fostering two location factors of developing requisite skills among the people and building enduring critical infrastructure, the foundation for good and competent governance should be assured to make the foreign direct investment (FDI) sought to benefit the country.

In his goodwill message, Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo, emphasised that the legislature is pivotal in creating a business-friendly environment by enacting laws that offer the hope of a secured business climate to achieve economic prosperity.

Also speaking, the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Amadi, noted the correlation between achieving economic growth and the role of the judicial system.

He said when industrial disputes are resolved fast, particularly at the Rivers State Multi-Door Court that offers alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism, parties can both enjoy justice served and gains of doing business in a peaceful environment.

Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of Rivers State Internal Revenue Service, Dr Chibeoso Aholu, said the Rivers State Economic and Investment Summit 2024 represents a milestone in the journey towards economic growth and investment opportunities in the State.

Dr Aholu, who is also the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the Summit, pointed to the theme of the summit, which is “Rivers Emerge: Advancing Pathways to Economic Growth and Sustainability,” and said that it is reflective of the collective aspirations to harness innovative strategies and sustainable practices for a thriving economic future.

 ”We are living in an era of unprecedented change and opportunities, where global interconnectedness and technological advancements are reshaping the economic landscape.

“This summit is designed to explore these dynamic trends, foster insightful dialogues, and build strategic partnerships that will propel us into a prosperous future.”

The summit also featured presentations of papers on available opportunities in oil and gas, energy mix, property and housing development, among others, as well as panel discussion sessions.

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