President Muhammadu Buhari is set to inaugurate General Electric’s (GE) $250 million manufacturing plant in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, which is billed to be ready in the third quarter of this year.
This aligns with Nigeria’s infrastructure needs and will contribute to economic development, especially in the oil & gas, power and transportation sectors.
The most visible sign of GE’s commitment in Nigeria resides in Calabar.
In February 2013, GE broke ground on an ambitious $1 billion investment in Calabar, the first of its kind in Africa.
The initiative includes a capital investment of $250 million, and about $800 million set aside for goods, labour, staff welfare and training over a period of five years.
President and chief executive officer of GE Nigeria, Dr. Lazarus Angbazo, said “We intend to have Mr. President inaugurate our Calabar manufacturing plant in the third quarter of this year. The consequences of that investment is that we are going to have a step change in terms of job creation directly and enabling jobs through supply chain, partners, and sub-contractors. Our contractors, Julius Berger has already created over 1,000 jobs on that project.
“Our jobs are some of the best jobs in Nigeria and our staff is 95 per cent Nigerians. There is no other country on the continent in the GE footprint that comes close in terms of the fact that Nigerians are at the helm. We have cascaded the Country-to-Country Agreement to specific projects with specific targets particularly rail, which is now the most topical.
“I appreciate the vision and the tenacity of the President and his team, especially, the Minister of Transport and the team at Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), as well as some of the leaders in the agencies that have been working on this concession. The amount of preparatory work that needs to happen for this concessioning to be successful is humongous. This is a sector that has never really been invested in”.
Angbazo said looking at the different assets of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, whether it is the Apapa site, the Zaria workshop or Enugu or Onitsha, it is clear that an amazing amount of work is underway.
He said, “We are far from finishing. But I want to say that unlike that history of that sector, I have seen a tremendous amount of tenacity and commitment in getting to a solution where we can see a marked improvement of the relevancy of that sector to the economy.
“So, the launch, the concession process, and a Request for Proposal (RFP) to this stage, where we have submitted and very surprisingly, based upon reporting – I have no personal knowledge of this – it appears that GE and its consortium, was the only entity that submitted a proposal”.
He said there is the need for Nigerians to understand what needs to happen for Nigeria to have a good rail system.
“This is important because our country is going nowhere without power and transportation. All Nigerians should be committed to making sure that we have leadership and focused momentum. When we see people trying to do things right, let us encourage them”, the GE CEO said.
In order to align with Nigeria’s goal for growth through its vision 2020, GE signed a historic Country to Company agreement aimed at fostering partnerships and driving critical infrastructure projects across the country.
GE’s agreement with the federal government cuts across power, transportation and healthcare sectors. Today, GE’s operation is creating a lot of economic activities.