The Ondo State government which is building a deep seaport in Nigeria, is putting together an international investment summit known as Develop Ondo 2.0 Investment Summit to attract potential investors to drive investments in the state.
Razaq Obe, the commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources for Ondo State, who doubles as the chairman of the local organising committee for the upcoming summit, speaks on its potential impact on the proposed Deep Seaport among other issues with BusinessDay’s Amaka Anagor-Ewuzie. Extract.
Can you give an overview of the upcoming Ondo State Investment Summit and its objectives.
The “Develop Ondo 2.0 Investment Summit” is a high-profile event organised by the Ondo State Government through a Local Organising Committee (LOC) in partnership with the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme.
It will showcase the investment potential and opportunities in Ondo State to local and international investors. It will serve as a platform for stakeholders to engage in a constructive dialogue, exchange ideas, and forge partnerships to drive the economic growth and development of the Sunshine State.
Develop Ondo will bring together investors to collaborate with the Ondo State Government to identify the areas of investment and financing opportunities existing in the State to support its robust aspirations in agriculture, tourism, oil and gas, manufacturing, logistics and industrial hubs, green energy technologies, and financing solutions.
To implement the summit, the committee brought in Brevity Anderson, a trade advisory consultancy firm. We also brought in Stears Business, a data company, as a partner for Develop Ondo, which will hold from 24th to 26th July 2023 in Akure, Ondo State.
Generally, we want to attract investment across various sectors and industries in Ondo State; promote the state as an investment destination by highlighting its strategic advantages, such as its natural resources, infrastructure, skilled workforce, and favourable business environment; facilitate networking and collaboration among investors, government officials, and others.
We also hope to showcase the ongoing initiatives, policies, and reforms aimed at enhancing the Ease of Doing Business and fostering a conducive investment climate.
In summary, we hope to attract $2 billion in investments to Ondo State, 70,000 new jobs, and bring in a number of donor partners as well as investors.
Distinguished personalities including President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, George Akume, SGF and the Executive Governor of Ondo State among others are expected to grace the summit.
What are the key sectors that the summit aims to promote?
Ondo State has vast agricultural potential and offers investment prospects in areas such as crop cultivation, livestock farming, agro-processing, and agricultural technology; blue economy; mining and solid minerals:
The state is rich in mineral resources, including bitumen, limestone, granite, coal, kaolin, and glass sand, providing attractive opportunities for exploration, mining, and processing.
Ondo aims to promote industrial growth and attract investments in manufacturing, processing, and value-added industries across various sectors.
Also, the state has abundant renewable energy sources, particularly solar and biomass, making it an ideal location for investments in renewable energy generation and related infrastructure.
In terms of tourism and hospitality, we have natural attractions such as beautiful landscapes, wildlife reserves, historical sites, and cultural festivals that offer prospects for investments.
Another important example of Ondo State’s investment potential is the Port of Ondo – the development of Port of Ondo at Erruna/Ogboti in Ilaje Local Government Area will create one of the most modern ports in Nigeria, with the largest solid minerals terminal contiguous to an industrial city with Free Trade Zone (FTZ) status.
Tell us about the proposed Ondo Deep Seaport and how far the state has gone with the project.
Port of Ondo is part of the state’s strategy of promoting and developing infrastructure dedicated to industry and logistics. The port will allow the development and operation of an efficient seaport with modern and well-equipped terminals that can service large commercial vessels that operate throughout the world.
The port will have the capacity to handle vessels of up to 14,000 TEUs and would be a true alternative to ports in Lome, Lagos, and Cotonou. The Port of Ondo project has received Federal Executive Council approval and has advanced to the concession and negotiation stage.
Read also: Tinubu’s ministerial list ready, to be submitted any moment – Presidency source
In addition, the Federal Government has also granted the state license to build and operate an industrial city with free trade zone status within the port location. The Industrial City measures over 2,700 hectares and is being developed with ample amenities and incentives to provide operational leverage to prospective investors for the processing and export of solid minerals through the proposed Deep Seaport with a depth of 16.5 –18m.
Most importantly, the state’s proximity to large gas reserves will be a major incentive for the energy sector wishing to provide power to the city. Here, natural gas will constitute the most promising power-generating source in the Industrial City and the port.
Though the Ondo State Government is about to complete the construction of a 30 Mega Wax (upgradable to 60MW) independent power project to complement the electricity supply in the state from the national grid. When completed, this power project will cater to the industrial needs of the FTZ and the port as well as the host communities.
How has the response been from potential investors so far? Can you share any success stories from previous summits?
It has been positive, and there is growing interest in exploring investment opportunities in Ondo State. Investors have shown a willingness to continue investing in the state’s priority sectors. These success stories demonstrate the effectiveness of the investment summit in attracting investments and fostering economic growth.
For instance, several investors have shown interest in agricultural projects, leading to the establishment of large-scale farms, agro-processing facilities, and partnerships with local farmers.
We have the Red Gold Project, which is a major agricultural initiative being implemented by the Ondo State government with the aim of promoting the cultivation and processing of oil palm in the state. Oil palm is another major cash crop in Ondo State, with an estimated production of 190,000 metric tons in 2018. It remains a critical component of the state’s agricultural reform programmes and initiatives.
Recent developments in driving gas adoption by the Federal Government have made Ondo the first state in Nigeria to develop its comprehensive gas strategy focused on making the state the gas hub of West Africa.
Our gas strategy is a significant component in achieving eventual investment and development. Accordingly, the state has chosen to be ambitious and to create an inland gas corridor from which all major gas fuels (CNG, LNG, LPG) and their by-products (gas to power, methane, butane, propane among others are collected to feed the inland areas of the country.
This is largely possible due to our strategic location along the path of the Escravos Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS), the backbone of Nigeria’s commercial gas industry. The gas corridor currently sits on 400 hectares of land with the following private sector investors operating. Attracting 2000 metric tons inland LPG storage terminal under development by Alles Charis Gas Limited. There are plans to attract over 10,000 metric tons of LPG storage within the Ore Corridor.
We have two industrial parks currently located in Ore, with two others proposed to be sited in Owo and Ifedore areas. Each park spans an average of 1,000 hectares and is expected to host companies involved in manufacturing, processing, and storage among others.
There is also a pipeline gas available at the Ore Industry Park for use by prospective allied industries. We have facilitated the provision of pipeline gas into the parks and there is also a 30MW tri-fuel power plant which is able to provide 24/7 electricity for investors.
The Ore parks are situated along the Benin-Ore-Sagamu-Lagos expressway: the most important trade route in Modern West Africa for the haulage of raw materials and finished goods from the North, East, and South of Nigeria to Lagos. Investors can therefore take advantage of this route and the attending access to the regional markets of the North, East, South, and Lagos markets.
What specific measures have been taken to ensure a conducive and attractive investment climate in the state?
First, we have simplified business registration and licensing processes to reduce bureaucratic bottlenecks; created investment-friendly policies, laws, and regulations to protect investors’ interests and provide a predictable business environment; developed industrial parks and special economic zones to provide dedicated spaces and incentives for businesses to set up and expand operations.
We have removed the bottleneck in C-of-O issuing process, and compressed completion time within 90 days.
The state established the Ondo Development and Investment Promotion Agency (ONDIPA) to develop robust economic activity within its various local governments.
Due to the viability of Ondo as a subnational investment destination, the State sought to harness its energy, huge gas and mining potential through the establishment of the Ondo State Ministry of Energy, Mines and Mineral Resources, and renewable energy generation in Ondo State.
How will the summit support local entrepreneurs and small businesses?
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the state’s investment potential, and the state has abundant natural resources ranging from promising climatic conditions for crop production to huge mineral deposits and wealthy forestry, as well as a highly educated labour force.
However, this potential will not be maximised without economic diversification. SMEs are therefore at the forefront of Develop Ondo.