…With guaranteed power, we now want more investors for Industrial Park, Tech Hubs – Obaseki
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that with the 450MW Azura-Edo Power Project now on stream, the state is looking at attracting more investors for the Benin Industrial Park and technology innovation hubs, which would benefit from the conducive business environment and guaranteed power in the state.
The governor said this during the visit of 10 World Bank Executive Directors to the Edo-Azura Power Plant, near Benin City, the Edo State Capital.
According to the governor, “Power is the key to industrialisation and development. We need to extend the benefits of this investment. Now that we have power, what are we going to do with it? The next set of projects are those that have to rely on this key infrastructure we have just created. So, we would be looking at the Benin Industrial Park, building infrastructure to encourage and support manufacturers to come in. We are looking at innovation hubs; we want to use the factor and advantage of 24/7 electricity to encourage technology groups and companies to be located in Edo State.”
Noting that other social amenities will benefit from the power project and World Bank’s continued support to the state, he said, “We are looking at our educational system. We are looking at getting the power to our schools so that we can increase the standard and quality of our education. We have finished the design of a couple of other projects. We want to get partners like the ones who have developed this project, to work with.”
On opening up the state for investment, he said, “Our role as a government is to enable things happen. Edo State government will not put taxpayers’ money in projects that the private sector can handle. As a government, we will create the enabling and supportive environment to ease doing business in a place like Edo. We want to attract more private sector investors, who will bring their money and in that process create jobs and help us improve our economic wellbeing.
World Bank Executive Director, Angola, Nigeria and South Africa sub-group, Ms. Bongi Kunene, said that the institution was ready to partner with the state as long as projects are in line with the Bank’s focus, noting that the Edo-Azura power project is an example of a solution to a key problem in the country.
According to her, “The project is transformational. It gives us a scope of what we can do together. We are delighted to see solutions. We would want to commit ourselves to projects that make sense and are in line with our focus.”
On how more of such projects can be attained, she said, “First of all, approvals happen at the government level. It starts with land, and making sure that the area is zoned properly, and that the environmental impact assessment has been done and they are up to world standards. Something like this is not financed by one entity or one country. It is financed by multilateral arrangements as well as international investment banks. So, the government’s role is to make sure that all the standards are up to world standards and timelines are met.”
Managing Director and Co-Founder, Azura Power West Africa Limited, Dr. David Ladipo, said that the project is a huge contribution to the power sector, noting, “In the evenings, our turbines are doing typically 450, 460 megawatts, which means we are producing 10, 11 or sometimes 12 percent of all the power that goes across the national grid. That gives me, the entire management team and the shareholders, including the Edo State Government, a tremendous amount of pride and satisfaction. We want to ensure that we continue to produce this power and, in another week or two, we will start planning for phase II.”