Akwa Ibom state government has began moves to explore the viability of reported gold and coal deposits in some parts of the state in a renewed bid to expand the economic base of the state.
It has also explained its growing partnership with China for the industrial and business development of the state.
Chairman of the State Investment Corporation, AKICORP, Dr Elijah Akpan told newsmen in Uyo yesterday that geologists would soon be contracted to determine the exact location and viability of the two minerals in the area.
“The Chinese and Canadians are coming with their superior technology that will be based on using satellite technology to locate the exact locations of these minerals and how viable they will be.” Akpan said.
The chairman said that the move was part of plans to also generate employment and discourage over reliance on crude oil proceeds which has continued to dwindle in recent times at the international market.
He described last month’s Chinese investment delegation visit to the state as fruitful, adding that the Chinese were satisfied with what was on ground and has expressed interest in investing in manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, oil and gas, automobile, mining, tourism, energy and railway.
He explained that the growing partnership with China was due to their renewed and favourable interest demonstrated in recent times in Africa but said that government would also open its investment doors to businesses from Europe and other parts of the world.
“Our interest in China is because if you look at the most of the economies of the Western nations today they are all slowing down and are now turning their eyes to Africa because they know that Africa is the next hub for development.
“And so China’s leading interest in Africa is just because of that and so the next move of development is Africa and they showed no hesitation and more interest to come into Akwa Ibom but we are also working with companies in America and Europe to bring investment to Akwa Ibom.” Akpan explained.
The chairman said that the state government has also commenced discussion with one of the states in the US “on a sister state relationship” for an enduring business partnership and maintained that the present administration has demonstrated enough commitment towards industrializing the state.
“The Udom Emmanuel’s administration has done much to resuscitate moribund industries in furtherance of the industrialization programme. Already investors have continued to line up with their expression of interest in Quality Ceramics, Qua Steel and also Akwa Palm with a new interest in Oko Iboku paper mills.
“In particular the Governor is very interested with the resuscitation of Qua Steel in Eket because of the abundance of the raw materials there. We can bring it back and then allow private investors to take over ownership later with small government equity so that we can create employment for our people.” The chairman explained.
On efforts to address the funding gap for Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, in the area Akpan explained that government has entered into a fresh negotiation with the Bank of Industry, BOI, on this regard.
“The previous government could not meet all the conditions with the BOI for funding of the SMEs because of its emphasis on developing infrastructure which is needed to attract investors and for even the SMEs to thrive well, but we have entered into a fresh plan with them and soon our SMEs will start getting the needed funding,” he explained.
He disclosed that more than 60 SMEs have already been pre qualified for the loan while efforts are ongoing to enable more SMEs in the area meet the requirement for qualification for such loans.
Akpan regretted that the business conscious level of indigenes of the state remained low but that AKICORP has commenced enlightenment programmes aimed at raising the business consciousness of the people including a quarterly business summit for SMEs in the area.
AKICORP, the chairman said would also have loved to fund some of the investment projects directly if not for paucity of fund.

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