Edo Business: A Closer Look at the Edo State-Asia Partnerships
In the absence of a clear document available to Edos with details of what the Edo Government’s numerous partnerships with Asian Governments are, many Edo stake holders are left clutching straws. With the BIG statement from Governor Godwin Obaseki in March 2018, we thought more information will follow. But with no more news on this fast and beautiful partnership, I think now is the right time to start making our voices heard on the things we need to know.
Edo State’s Governors Statement on 20th March 2018:
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, said that reforms by his administration and the state’s strategic assets account for the increasing interest of Asian investors in the state. Obaseki said, “We are witnessing an influx of investors from Asia because we have a unique advantage that other states don’t have. Edo State is the new investment destination going by its strategic location, deposit of energy resources including on-shore gas reserves and other national infrastructure such as the gas lines, fibre network and transmission lines.” “We have created an office for investment promotion in the state, which is located beside the NIPC office. This is to demonstrate how far we have gone to promote investments in the state.”
What the Asian Partners Provide Edo State:
In the past two years, maybe longer, Asian lenders and contractors have been reshaping Edo State, tarring roads, building factories etc. There are plans that this will be matched by investments in manufacturing plants, new ports, railways and corner stores. Look at Rwanda and Accra for examples of Asian investment. Most Rwandan hotels are full of Chinese products, elevators, shampoos, tea, and in Ghana there’s a crew of Chinese repairing the road on the central roundabout. The flow of Asian money and workers has prompted some to ask is Asia becoming Africa’s most important economic partner or is it the new colonial master?
Is Asia sucking away Edos resources to drive its own economic growth, while offering little in return?
Asia/ China is certainly a real force in Africa. Just look at the clutch of African presidents/ Governors from many parts of Africa who have made the long journeys to Asia Business Forums. The visitors certainly have incentives to be here. They are being showered with attention and tantalized with the prospect of preferential loan deals. There are over 20,000 Asian state owned and private owned companies working in Africa. Many of them pay back investments in less than a year and its very attractive.
They over-estimate the sums they are lending to Edo state. There are still concerns in many parts of Africa that this is not an equal exchange, concerns that the investment deals are opaque and open to corruption, that Asia/Chinese infrastructure projects often import Chinese labour rather than developing local skills, that Chinese firms may exploit local workers, that cheap Chinese products undermine Africa's ability to build its own industries, that for all the new roads, railways and ports, this is not a mutually beneficial relationship.
What Edos Must Watch Out For:
Asia must invest more in Edo factories and businesses, not just infrastructure and buildings. This will create more jobs in Edo State rather than just increase the export of Chinese-made products to the continent. An example is Kenya, the prime minister highlighted they were importing a lot of manufactured equipments like tractors, ploughs and harvesters. They feel they should by now have a tractor manufacturing plant in Kenya. There is no reason why Edo should or will be importing tractors from Asia year in year out for our destined Agriculture. Also with the Asians having access into our raw materials market, we need access into their markets. Edo products must be allowed into the Asian market. Edo State must have policies to make this happen. We need to see what policies the government has built around this partnership
The Caution: The relationship from an economic stand point is promising and encouraging but more needs to be done. Gov. obaseki is compromising because he is hell bent on turning Edo State into an industrial hub. In such a situation every economic stimulus must be considered including political empowerment of the Edo diaspora.
The decision for Edo Government- Edo diaspora collaboration is not only good, it is inevitable. if you consider the level where we are at presently, what is the government waiting for?
There is no dispute with Gov Obaseki but more clarification is needed. Where is your working document?
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