About 99% of people in a given crowd; Akwa Ibomites overseas do not have any information about achievements of Obong Attah. Thereby making him an instance enemy to a great deal of people. I have a lot of convincing to do like you did to turn my thinking around. I just can not make a word of mouth statement; they demand actual addresses at Uyo to convince my colleagues about the major projects. They claim that Attah started and Attah abondoned and nothing is completed.
I think the trouble is the Federal Roads in Akwa Ibom that turns 99% of Akwa Ibom against Obong Attah; that is the only visible evidence from Calabar Airport to Uyo that most of them take to visit Uyo; that is the only road that leads to Uyo. Needless to say, I promised my association a detailed power point presentation; hopefully before Obong Attah's arrival in Atlanta I should be able to make them think differently, if not with mixed-feelings about Obong Attah's performance in seven years. Email me anything you can with photos and street addresses to include in my presentation to email@example.com.
The following is the interview of Attah by reporters from the USA (worldreport-ind.com) early in 2006.
- Making the most of its resources -
Akwa Ibom State. With major initiatives under way to develop agriculture, industry and tourism, Akwa Ibom State is on course for a more prosperous future
ocated within the Niger Delta, Akwa Ibom State is a key member of the South-South zone, which accounts for more than 90 per cent of Nigeria’s wealth. Rich in oil and natural gas, the state plays host to ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and Elf and is the source of over 28 per cent of the national output of crude.
However, Akwa Ibom is rich in more than oil and is eager to attract investment to advance its development. The soil offers a range of mineral resources from gold, limestone and clay to salt, coal, silver nitrate and glass sand. An abundance of arable land and a favourable climate provide the right conditions for year-round agriculture.
Major improvements in infrastructure have been made since the administration of Victor Attah came to office in 1999. A massive rural development plan is ongoing, including education and health projects and improved access to water and electricity. A network of roads has been created, opening up the state and providing access to markets. Mr Attah’s administration is committed to creating the right environment to encourage the growth of private enterprise and attract foreign investment. The governor sees private sector-led industrialisation as the key to expanding production capacity, creating employment and promoting technology-driven development.
The Akwa Ibom Investment and Industrial Promotion Council (AKIIPOC) has secured the backing of a number of strategic partners and core investors in developing local industries. A Strategic Economic Empowerment Fund (SEEF) has been set up to provide financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises.
Two projects with far-reaching implications for development are the building of an independent power plant (IPP) and an international airport with an aircraft maintenance facility (see panel). The power plant, designed to generate 685 megawatts of power from Akwa Ibom’s abundant gas resources, will boost industrialisation and act as a precursor to the construction of two refineries, one producing 12,000 barrels per day (bpd) and a larger one with a capacity of 100,000 bpd. The first will be half-owned by the state government, the second wholly privately owned. Already established is a state-of-the-art science park – one of the first in Africa – aimed at launching the state onto the information technology highway. There is also a university of science and technology with a particular focus on oil-related and marine activities.
Most of the 2.5 million people who live within Akwa Ibom’s 3,248 square miles practise subsistence farming. The state government has set out to revolutionise the agricultural sector, and to realise its potential both as an alternative foreign exchange earner to oil and provider of food and employment.
Funds have been poured into a variety of initiatives to establish small-scale farming businesses and community plantation farms, and farmers have been supplied with subsidised fertilisers and cheap seedlings.
There is huge potential for production of tree crops, such as oil palm, cocoa and rubber. Private sector investment is also being encouraged in livestock, poultry and fish farming while cassava production is being boosted as a potentially lucrative sector. The Ibom Rice Company has been launched to turn the state into a major producer and exporter of rice. The $12 million (£6.9 million) project is expected to produce 10 tons of rice per hectare from its rice farms and mill for both domestic consumption and export.
Private-sector led industrialisation is the key to increasing production and jobs
A flour mill is to be constructed and operated by a New York company backed by a loan from the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Furthermore, a memorandum of understanding has been signed with a Swaziland and South African company to establish a large-scale poultry and piggery farm with processing plants.
Steps are also being taken to develop a profitable tourism industry. Akwa Ibom’s coastline extends for more than 80 miles, much of it sandy beach, with ideal conditions for yachting and deep water fishing. A world-class 18-hole golf course has been built to complement a new 3.4 billion naira (£16 million) five-star hotel and marina run by the Le Meridien group, and the entire complex will eventually be privatised.
INTERVIEW Governor Victor Attah
I'd like to start by looking at Akwa Ibom State itself, both past and present, as I'm sure much has changed since the state was carved out of Nigeria's Cross River State in 1987, becoming one of the most recently formed states in the Federation. Governor Attah could you please begin by giving the readers of The Independent a brief introduction on the State and how, in your opinion does the Akwa Ibom STATE of 2006 differ from that created in 1987?
Thank you. When the state was created in 1987, a lot of what you see today was not in place. When I came in, in 1999 I realized that there was a lot of catching up to do in many areas. Basic infrastructure (transport, power supply, telecoms etc) for instance was not in place and we had to start improving the state at many different but key levels. In addition to this, as government is the largest employer in the state, you will find that the majority of the highly paid people are within the capital city. The best schools are located there as well as the best medical facilities and hardly anything comparable outside the capital city. This is the situation that Akwa Ibom State faced when I came into office. It is necessary to state that people should have facilities all over and not concentrated only in one place, and this is what we had to improve and change when we came in. What we have done, is to implement a massive rural development plan that includes projects of rural water, rural electrification and rural roads, and even farm roads, including something else that we call Backward Area Development program. We have completed several roads, hospitals and there are still so many projects that are ongoing.
So we started putting a number of policies in place that targeted the improvement of the basic infrastructure. I always like to remember what the British High Commissioner said with emphasis during one of his visits, one much shorter than yours, namely that he was very happy to have been in a state where he has seen where and how the derivation funds have been used to improve the lives of the people. And I felt that that was a very high compliment. For me what has always been important is the way I fulfilled the Akwa Ibom dream, or the Akwa Ibom project.
I would like now to go over the main achievements and challenges during your administration. You were elected Akwa Ibom State Governor in 1999 and in the 6 years you have been commended and appraised as the visionary behind the huge success that has been achieved in the state in recent times. Indeed just last year you were honoured with the African Leadership Award in Good Governance, by the Dr. Kenneth Kaunda Foundation in collaboration with the African Union Media Group in South Africa. Clearly for many, Akwa Ibom State today is one of the reference model states in the current political experiment in the country and much of this is due to your leadership. With a year and a half left for your office, what are your priorities and objectives looking forward into2006?
My vision when I came in was to establish those things. One of My visions when I came in was to establish certain things. One of my first priorities was to increase the road network tremendously. This we have done all over. In many states, just the capital is what you can describe as a town, but in Akwa Ibom you have 31 local governments and 8 towns all of them longing for development. Let's start by looking at the telecom sector: the GSM companies would not want to come to Akwa Ibom for a very long time, so what did I do? I sourced as much as $67.5 millions cash and invested; by buying 15% into one of the GSM companies and this is why we were the fourth town to have a roll out. Immediately telephony became available throughout the state. Alongside that we are also establishing a science park, which has a major computer training component and facilities for incubating new ideas, new industries. Another aspect of the park is of course software development, which is one of the biggest money earners for even a place like India. What I looked at was that IT has become the science of the future, and I took a look at what happened in the Silicon Valley as well as the science triangle in North Carolina and I believe we can repeat the same experience here. We have created a state of the art Information Technology Park in Akwa Ibom that has enabled the state to be admitted as a member of the International Association of Science Parks owners. To help with our IT programme, a group of students was chosen, and sent abroad on government scholarships. In 2004 graduates of Akwa Ibom flew out to Canada for 18 months IT training sponsored by the state government. They will then come back with the knowledge and the know how to pass on to other students and other people in the state. In this area we are setting standards as the students are exposed to the best facilities in this aspect of engineering. The Science Park is one of Africa's first, built with a thoroughly up-to-date technology. The Technology Park is on a very solid foundation to raise the calibre of manpower for the immediate and long-term needs of the state economy. We have also established what will be a first class university of science and technology. It is designed as a research oriented university with specific interest in oil-related and marine activities. Though we emphasized technology, we did not ignore Agriculture. We know our president is very strongly and heavily committed to the development of Agriculture. We in this state also feel that we should develop each and every one of our resources, and rice cultivation is one of the major potentials of this state. At the same time to properly position Agriculture as a major revenue source, we have put a lot of emphasis on plantation agriculture, with specific attention to tree crops like Cocoa, Rubber, and in particular Oil Palm. The state has also taken advantage of cassava and its derivatives as a major cash crop and foreign exchange earner. We have also put in place the Community Plantation Development Scheme (CPDS), which is a scheme whereby communities donate land, which is used by government to establish agricultural estates/plantations. Particular crops suitable to the community's needs are cultivated giving consideration to such factors as soil type, and of course weather conditions. Also we have committed over N300 million towards the production of seedlings and the purchase of machinery and pest control materials. We have other very important initiatives, which need to be mentioned like the Ibom Rice project, the cassava initiative which aims at positioning our state as a major producer and exporter of cassava. We also have signed an MOU with a Swaziland and South African Company for the establishment of a significant poultry and piggery farm with processing plants.One thing that I wanted to further elaborate is the proposed project for the Akwa Ibom refinery. Can you give more details about the development on this front?
There are actually two proposals for the refinery. One of the refineries is a mini refinery, to produce 12000 barrels per day and it would be half owned by the government and half privately owned. This has attracted the interest of a group. The loans for that are coming from the U.S being guaranteed by EXXIM Bank. The second plan included a refinery with a capacity of 100,000 BPD, and this would be 100% privately owned. The construction of 100,000 BPD export refinery worth $1, 5 billion will be financed by a consortium of banks.
Actually two refineries are being proposed. One of the refineries is a mini refinery, to process 12000 barrels per day and it will be half owned by the government and half privately owned. The sponsors are two Akwa Ibom people living in the US. They have secured the backing of the US EXIM bank to the value of 10million US dollars. The second is a refinery with a capacity of 100,000 BPD. It is an export-oriented refinery worth $1.5 billion and will be financed by a consortium of banks. The state government expects to take 15% equity in this refinery. At the same time, I said to myself, and this I did very early; all this will be wasted if indeed we do not have constant power supply. We always knew that the key factor in industrialization is power. We therefore set up the Ibom Power Company in which we made an initial investment of $45m to procure gas turbines and other facilities. An additional $100m will be provided by the state government to complete phase 1 of the project. On completion the project will be privatized. I can tell you that already we have signed an MOU with Globeleq of the UK. They are seriously talking with us now and wanting to buy up to 60-70% equity of the IPP. It is our firm conviction that with twenty-four hour uninterrupted power supply, and given all the other enabling circumstances, Akwa Ibom State will become the choice location for most intending industrial enterprises. Transportation then becomes a major factor. This is why we decided to go for an airport. Finding a location for an airport in a compact state like Akwa Ibom was not easy. Luckily we had earlier commissioned full aerial mapping of the state. To select a suitable site, we engaged the services of Mott McDonald of Croydon. They did an excellent job. Our airport is unique in that it is designed around an MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) facility. We also expect it to become a major hub for the oil industry in the Gulf. It is developed in partnership with DynCorp International of America. At the moment it is fully financed by the state government but, like most other facilities, we expect to privatize it. Our hope is that we can also find the money with which to develop a seaport for which a site has already been selected. To compliment all these and to serve as a catalyst to attract investment, we are also building a five-star hotel with a world class, eighteen-hole golf course and a marina. The marina is at the old harbour that was used by Lever Brothers, SCOA, CFAO. John Holt, PZ and all those old West Coast trading companies. The entire complex will be profitably managed by the Le-Meridien Group. Again we expect that it can be privatized upon completion. The entire setting for the complex is simply fantastic and I am saying that as one who is well exposed to quality hotels, having lived and worked for sometime in Barbados. I have this particular advantage that I had studied and worked in the UK as well as the United States of America and also as I have said, in the West Indies. So people come here to invest knowing that I know howBusiness is done in those places.
The Akwa Ibom Investment and Industrial Promotion Council (AKIIPOC). At inception, the state inherited a number of companies from Cross River State and since this time your administration has been pursuing an industrialization and privatization program through the Akwa Ibom Investment and Industrial Promotion Council, AKIIPOC. Through AKIIPOC, a number of interests have been secured as strategic partners and core investors in reviving these industries. Honourable Governor, what are the successes of AKIIPOC, what has the council achieved throughout these years, and in what areas do you believe there is potential for British investors to come in?The idea of AKIIPOC came from two different institutions in Nigeria. You know I had lived a long time in the Northern State of Kaduna and I have always admired the NNDC, the New Nigerian Development Company that has stakes in many areas of the economy in the North. At the same time I had looked at the O'dua Investment Company which operated in the same way in the West for the Yoruba states. The idea was for AKIIPOC to combine the functions as an investment promotion council, which is what we have in Nigeria as the NIPC, as well as a privatizing outfit as we have in the Bureau of Public Enterprises. AKIIPOC pursues the State Government's privatization, investment and industrial promotion initiatives. Additionally, it supervises the government's economic development programmes and institutions. The council was further empowered to revive and privatize enterprises, as well as to attract investment and businesses. The key areas of interest for AKIIPOC are the strategic industries such as oil and gas, telecommunications. Agriculture and empowerment programmes. AKIIPOC also manages a Strategic Economic Empowerment Fund, known by the acronym SEEF which aims to improve the quality of life of the people of Akwa Ibom through the provision of technical and financial assistance to bring forth viable small and medium-scale enterprises. Large-scale commercial projects that AKIIPOC has supported so far include Akwa Petrochemical and Energy Company, a holding company involved with the planned refinery and the independent power plant. AKIIPOC also is the state's chief promotion agency, having led many trade missions to foreign countries. Recent missions have taken place in China, the United States, India, Syria, Ukraine, and South Africa. AKIIPOC has secured from the U.S. government agency, OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) an equity investment in a flour mill by an American promoter. This is the first ever non-petroleum related, OPIC investment project in Nigeria' history.
The Akwa Ibom Economic summit will hold in the state at the end of February. How do you intend to attract foreign interest whilst as well involve the participation of various parties outside of Akwa Ibom, and Nigeria?
We have advertised and we have got a lot of response. The forum will serve as a platform to present Akwa Ibom, but some personalities will also come to say what they know about Akwa Ibom and what they have done in Akwa Ibom. It will also serve as an opportunity for us to talk about the different developments in the State to the Akwa Ibom the people. It is going to be a very significant Economic Summit where I will say to the people: "this is what I believe you people had asked me to do, this is how far I have gone, and this is what remains to be done", so that short-term, middle-term, long-term, the Akwa Ibom people will understand what I see for the future. And this will also become the manifesto for the next Governor. That is not to say that he will not have an individual input, but Akwa Ibom people will assess my successor on the basis of who can best fulfill their dream as defined at this summit.
The renewed focus on economic development and the privatization of a number of industries has strengthened the commercial partnership between Nigeria and the UK. Indeed, the fact that you were able to attract the interest of a foremost energy company in the UK, Globalic, is an example of this. How important is the current contribution by UK investors to the Akwa Ibom State economy and in what areas do you believe they are most needed?
Very recently, in October 2005 we had a trade mission organized by the UK Trade & Investment. The mission was organized as a follow up to an inward mission from the State of Akwa Ibom in June 2004 led by me. The outward trade mission visited Lagos, Port Harcourt and Uyo. The main areas for British investors will be in oil and gas. With the strong focus from Mr. President on local content, clear opportunities for partnerships are available. Akwa Ibom is going to be a major location.
Your Excellency, when the time comes for you to step down from the position, what would you like to have achieved? Clearly your legacy is to be seen everywhere already in the state, but how would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as someone that has been able to create something for his State and his people. More than everything else, I hope that my successor will continue with the master plan that we have already started to implement so that the different projects will successfully come to fruition. You see that the people are hungry for a change; and you know that perhaps God has given you the ability to effect that change; and all you want is the opportunity, and you have asked for that opportunity; when you get it if you are not able to bring change and development to your people, you would have betrayed your own self.
Your Excellency, you have been one of the main protagonists of the recent Nigerian meeting of the South South governors, where you are one of the strongest supporters of a south Nigerian president in 2007. Do you have any presidential aspirations for 2007?
I have strong presidential aspirations for the South South. That's what I have; strong presidential aspirations for the South South, but it will be up to the country to decide who will be the new president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It takes a whole country to produce the president, and all I can do as one of 140 million Nigerians, is sit and watch what is coming.
Thank you very much.
Akwa Ibom science park:The following is an excerpt from www.internationalreports.net about akwa ibom science park.The site has been reporting akwa ibom development since last year.Please visit the site and try to read all in there about akwa ibom from October last year.Akwa ibom is the only state in Nigeria featured there.
Science park: The backbone of a high-tech economy
By James Overly The concept of a science park is an idea that has been with us for only a few decades. But the idea is proving itself, to the point where the successful parks can produce companies earning billions of dollars a year.
Science parks are areas set aside to "incubate" a concentration of science or high-tech businesses and research centers. They are quite popular in Asia and Europe, and are in fact usually colluding-—and even competing—with universities for scientific invention and talent. One of the first, the Hsinchu Science Park in Taiwan, is now home to several of Taiwan’s giant computer and semiconductor companies.
Africa has lagged behind. The first science park on the continent—in Pretoria, South Africa—was established as recently as 2005. Many African leaders’ ideas of development projects have centered around soccer stadiums. It could be said that Africa has been waiting for a leader with the smarts and ability to push a science park through.
The science park is one important element of a comprehensive strategy to elevate Akwa Ibom’s economy and society from the 1950’s to one that is, according to the State’s mission statement, "technologically driven by 2010." That the second science park in all of Africa should be established in Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria is a testament to the vision of the state’s executive governor, Victor Attah.The development projects Governor Attah has inspired cross the economic spectrum, but when asked to list those dearest to his heart, he always includes the science park. That begs the question, why build a science park in a underdeveloped state like Akwa Ibom?
The answer lies in part in the fact that Governor Attah is one of Nigeria’s most successful architects. As such, he understands how technology and business come together. Widely traveled, he also understands what other countries are doing to spur economic development, and that it would increasingly be driven by high technology.
Dr. Luis Asuquo, an engineer serving as the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Science and Technology, says, "Technology is the emphasis in the whole world. It is the backbone of economic development today. The key to Akwa Ibom’s prosperity in this modern age lies in the effective combination of three factors: technology, raw materials, and capital. The most important of these three is possibly technology, since the creation and adoption of new scientific techniques can, in fact, make up for a deficiency in natural resources, and reduce the demands on capital."
The science park has several areas of focus. Dr. Asuquo says, "Information technology and software development will be the focus of the first phase" of science park development. The state particularly hopes to develop small- and medium-sized businesses oriented toward serving or making products from Nigeria’s oil industry. Agriculture, biotechnology, health and pharmaceutical projects offer other opportunities for the future.
For Governor Attah, Nigeria’s oil industry is one of the forces driving his emphasis on developing Akwa Ibom’s technical base. To bolster the science park, among other objectives, he seeks to establish a technology university composed of four or five science and engineering schools, although funding has had to be trimmed. Governor Attah explains, "I know how much money the oil companies are paying for seismic data from outside. So if I set up a university paying full salaries [so] that we have a research department that can handle all of those things, look at all that money that will stay inside the country!"
While Governor Attah and his commissioners know full well that value of improving the state’s technological base, they also know full well that many Akwa Ibom voters do not understand the significance of building a science park.
In spite of the political risk, Governor Attah feels compelled to push ahead with his vision. "I see certain things around here, [that] if I don’t do them, nobody else will want to do them," Attah says. "So I go and do these things. For instance, I have not built a stadium, because I know the next governor will build a stadium. But I can go and build a science park, because the next governor may not think like me and want to build a science park." He muses, "When you know how much money India is making from developing software…"
Proof of this calculation has already arrived. Out of all the possible choices on the continent, and largely due to the science park’s presence, Akwa Ibom has been selected to lead all of Africa in cellular telephone technology. The signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in late March establishes a joint venture among Akwa Ibom’s science park and two Chinese companies—one a subsidiary of an American company, Technoconcepts—to manufacture and market cellular telephones throughout Africa. Each partner in the joint venture will own a one-third share.
This, the most promising venture to date to emerge from Africa’s second science park, is expected to begin preliminary operations this year. It will then expand over a six-month period to include more sophisticated operations as the plant comes on stream and workers are trained.
The MOU is a stunning achievement that will enable the oil-rich state to leapfrog to the cutting edge of high technology. The telephones manufactured there will perform functions already present on cellular telephones used in Asia but not yet available in the U.S., such as bill payment and money transfers. More importantly, however, the telephones will likely soon incorporate new technology being developed by Technoconcepts. That technology will allow a cellular telephone to operate on any network in the world, and communicate with many other devices using digital radio frequencies.
Right now, Africa’s cell phone market is exploding. It is estimated at about 40 million units, and it is growing exponentially," says Technoconcepts founder and CEO Antonio Turgeon. The project will position the companies to capture a significant share of that bounty.
Other state government efforts to increase the role of technology in education have been notably successful. Governor Attah notes, "We have built four model secondary schools, three replacement schools, nine computer science centers and equipped 210 school libraries with supplies and furniture. In addition, 70 of what will be 200 graduates are studying information technology abroad."
In addition, the state has established and equipped a state-of-the-art computer center for computer instruction, and has purchased nine mobile computer labs to travel to rural villages to enhance computer learning. Dr. Asuquo’s ministry is currently building Internet infrastructure to serve the capital city of Uyo. The state government has ambitious plans to extend the Internet entirely throughout the state through the construction of a network of microwave towers.
The computer center is already actively extending the concept of e-government throughout the state government, and will seek ways to extend e-commerce knowledge to interested local businesses.
Later phases in the construction of the science park will house research and development centers for activities related to the petroleum industry.