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Enugu’s $30 billion economy: Mbah woos German, Danish, Austrian, other foreign investors

As part of his development plans to build the Enugu State gross domestic product (GDP) from the current $4.4 billion to $30 billion, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Peter Mbah, has reached out to investors from Germany, Denmark, Austria and other European countries to consider bringing down their businesses, and investing in the huge market existing in the state.

Mbah made the overtures on Friday at the official opening of GoUni-European Business Park and Centre for Practical Skills at the Godfrey Okoye University, Ugwuomu Nike, a skills acquisition and vocational training centre for students and youths.

He promised the investors that his administration, if elected, will enable a business-friendly environment by derisking investment flow, clearing the legal hurdles and other extraneous bottlenecks that endanger investment prospects and providing a one-stop-shop for documentation and other permits.

The industrialist who reiterated his determination to grow the state economy exponentially through technology, skills acquisition and vocational training centres, said these will be largely private sector-driven and enabled by flexible policy incentives.

Mbah stressed that the establishment of the business park and center for practical skills were in tandem with his development plans for the state, noting further that his plan is to work in synergy with lawmakers for a proactive and dynamic legislative framework that will make it compulsory for every child that attains the age of 12 to commence the acquisition of one or more skills and by age 18, become mentally, skillfully and physically equipped to create wealth for themselves.

While assuring of his readiness to partner the centre for training of youths in different skills and vocations that will add to the economic growth of the state by creating jobs, the governorship hopeful insisted that all opportunities must be explored for productiveness.

He stated that the idea behind the centre had justified his driving philosophy that “tomorrow is here” by hastening those factors that serve as catalysts for development and economic growth.

According to him: “the establishment of the centre of practical skills and the business park directly cut into our development plans for the people of Enugu State. Our goal is that in the near future, this practical skills centre and indeed the European Business Park will constitute one of many hubs for enlargement of small and medium size businesses. So what you have done by the establishment of this practical skills centre is on all fours with our development plans and indeed consistent with our strategy to lead a public sector enabled but private sector driven economic growth”.

Assuring the investors of his commitment to make the state the preferred destination for investment, business, tourism and living, Mbah maintained that the “Made-in-Enugu” products that will serve both domestic and foreign markets and will address the problem of unemployment, eradicate poverty, and also create opportunities for investors to explore other areas such as the new energy and mineral resources sector his soon-to-be administration is exploring. These, he said, included huge deposits of lime stones, ironstone, gypsum, alum, glass sands, clay minerals, coal, in different parts of the state.

The oil and gas mogul while sharing ideas with the European business community, re-echoed his background as someone coming from the private sector who understood the pain business owners go through to start up and sustain their businesses, said his experiences had prepared him with the right tool to dislodge all the barriers that frustrate investment through friendly legislation, e-governance, accessing of title documents within one week from the comfort of their homes and offices, since his key mission is to attract as many investments as he can to the state.

Mbah further stated that the plan to construct a cargo airport, improve on the existing relationship the state has afforded investors, and create the platforms that will convince the business community that Enugu State is open to partnership and businesses are all part of his vision statement.

He commended the resoluteness of the university management led by the Vice Chancellor, Rev. Prof. Christian Anieke, for its “doggedness and excellence” in the management of the laudable projects, saying his administration will partner with them to produce responsible, wealth-creating young men and women that will be useful to the world.

On his part, an international energy investor from Europe, Mr. Jens-Christian Moller, expressed confidence in Mbah’s ability to achieve the “ambitious $30 billion dollars economy”, adding that his company will be willing to invest in the state once he wins the forthcoming election.

He said they’re interested in the training of Enugu people in Europe and bringing them back so that they can replicate the technical-know-how and other skills they would have learned in Europe back home to their people.

While speaking with our correspondent, Mr. Moller said what Mbah intended to achieve in the state was quite ambitious. According to him, it’ll take extra efforts to achieve seven times the current gross domestic product (GDP) in the state, adding that he was impressed listening to the PDP gubernatorial flagbearer marshalling his blueprint.

He further assured that he would be partnering with the state under the leadership of Mbah as soon as the right framework to cooperate, and to present young people who can travel to Europe from Enugu to learn and exchange ideas is made available.

According to him, they are ready to engage Enugu youths in vocational trainings, to be world-class engineers and help them work globally, especially in the area of electricity generation where they can live in Africa, pay their taxes in Africa and earn their income abroad, adding that they’re ready to create thousands of jobs once the framework is provided for them.

While lending his voice, the Danish Consulate General in Nigeria, Per Christensen said they had their corporate investments and activities in Lagos state and one in Northern Nigeria. He, however, noted that they had none in Eastern Nigeria, stressing that they’re willing to have one in Enugu State that will serve the Eastern Nigeria with the right policies, such as government’s transparency once the new government comes into office.

The Consul General further said he would be glad to come back to Enugu State once Mbah is elected to discuss further on how they can come in with their investments, maintaining that it would be in the interest of the state to have a businessman as their governor who’ll be transparent with investors.

Speaking at the event, the Director General of the ICMPD, Dr. Michael Spindelegger, stated that the business centre and business park opened in the university was a unique collaboration meant at bringing together migration expertise, a local university and the private sector to open up prospects for the local population, business location and companies, in order to attract small and medium-sized enterprises to Nigeria with its large and growing market of over 220 million people.

Speaking earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the university said the programme was possible because of their uncanny innovation and commitment where they were able to transform a jungle to a Catholic University, and to a GO Uni-European Business Park and Centre of Practical Skills.

Commending Mbah’s entrepreneurial exploits in the private sector, Professor Obiora Ike said he was able to grow his company from a late entrant to a leading global conglomerate.

He lauded Mbah’s patriotism for coming back to Nigeria to invest after acquiring the best education in America and Europe, saying the foremost entrepreneur will rescue the state and transform it to an unprecedented status in the country.

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