By Henry Oqua, Babatunde Olatunji & Isaac Aimurie
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Tuesday hosted the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Cui Jianchun and his wife Liang Jianchun to a State Dinner at Government House, Benin City, and took the opportunity to lay out areas of more partnerships between Edo State and Beijing.
Mr. Obaseki praised the Chinese community in Edo for their contributions to the economy of the State, specifically steel production, manufacturing and construction.
He pointed out that Chinese companies own the largest flat sheet glass company, Rongsheng Holding Limited, in West Africa, and the largest wood company in West Africa, Rongtai Wood Company.
The Governor added: “Chinese companies have invested in a wide range of economic activities from steel production to production of ceramic tiles and door manufacturing.
“It is on record that we have the largest flat sheet glass company in West Africa in Edo and the largest wood processing company in West Africa in Edo courtesy of investment by Chinese companies.
“Edo State has so much to offer businesses from all over the world because of its unique location as a hub in Nigeria.
“If you take a 3-hour radius around the capital Benin City, you can reach a market of almost 70 million people. This is in addition to the diverse ecology that is very rich in terms of agricultural production. To crown it all we have one of the largest gas reserves so the energy required for industrialization exists in the State.”
He further said: “Edo State is focused on attracting more investors into the state after the over $1.5 billion worth of investments attracted into the State, including the $500 million Edo State Oil Palm Program (ESOPP); the over $250 million Saro Africa Integrated Farm with an ethanol processing facility; the independent power generating company, Ossiomo Power Company; the 6000bpd Edo Refinery and the 10,000bpd Duport Refinery, with the first energy park in Africa, among others.”
Obaseki highlighted that his administration has made gains in these and other sectors including education and capacity building of the workforce in Edo State, adding that he hoped the meeting would accelerate more investments from Chinese companies in the State
“The Chinese in Edo have proven that we can rely on them as partners, and we hope that this visit is another step in that direction we want to go. Business is about trust; if we trust you enough we can do business.
“We hope that this visit is one that will help us catalyze our expectations so that in a short while we will see more Chinese investments into our State.
“We have emphasized human capital development, strengthened our educational system and trained young people to be employable by giving them the requisite foundational education to make them relevant in their workplaces,” he said.
Ambassador Jianchun in his remarks expressed his gratitude to the Governor Obaseki for his contributions towards creating a conducive business climate for Chinese companies to operate in the State.
The Chinese envoy who was accompanied by the heads of Chinese companies in Edo including CCECC, explained his conviction that China could be more than friends with Edo State in a mutually beneficial partnership.
“People always talk about friendship, and today is about going beyond partnership to become relatives and I hope that the Chinese community could be relatives of your State.
“With relatives, there is an obligation and responsibility to work with each other. I thank you for your help. They told me that you have done well for them. Thank you to your team for caring about Chinese nationals and Chinese investments here. I have told them to try to be Chinese-Nigerians here. I think that China and Edo State can be good partners” the Ambassador said.