Edo State is well on its way to clinch a chunk of the $60 billion pencilled down as financial support by the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, for the African continent, announced at the ongoing 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in China.
In his keynote speech, Xi Jinping said that in the next three years China would float eight major initiatives with African countries, to realise a closer China-Africa community of shared destiny. He noted that the fields of interest for China include industry, investment, trade, infrastructure, health, culture, environmental protection and security.
Governor Godwin Obaseki with representatives of the federal government in Beijing on Monday, engaged representatives of the Chinese government and top-guns of the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Limited in China, in what followers of the investment collaboration with the Asian country, say, is the last lap of talks to secure final investment decisions and commence full scale development of the Benin River Port project, the Benin Industrial Park and the Modular Refinery.
On the Edo State Government’s side are governor Obaseki with some of his aides; the Director-General of Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Yewande Sadiku, Acting Director General of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Secretariat, Alhaji Abdullateef Shittu, amongst others.
The project is expected to open the state for foreign trade and boost local production, leveraging the state’s strategic location to attract investment and grow manpower.
Before leaving for China, Obaseki had approved the release of N700 million for the Benin Refinery project, which the state government is executing in partnership with a Chinese consortium.
With the initial investment capital approved, experts conversant with the project, say the state government is well placed to seal the deals for the projects so that development work can commence in earnest.
The governor said that the investment drive is to steer the state away from dependence on oil and set it on the path of prosperity anchored on a solid industrial base.
According to him, “We are excited about the Modular Refinery project and are certain that with our Chinese partners, we will begin work on the project in no distant time.
The project is going to transform the state’s economy and position us as a hub for fabrication of refinery parts with the setting up of SIPS fabrication yard to groom local capacity in that sector.”
The Chinese government also made commitment to establish the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in China. The country fully supports the goal of basically achieving food security before 2030 as proposed by African countries, and will provide one billion yuan (146.3 million US dollars) in emergency humanitarian aid to disaster-affected African countries.