By Samuel Edu
The journey of a thousand miles they say, begins with a single step. Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning. Investors and experts in the business world said, the time will never be right to start anything reasonable towards the attainment of growth, advocating that instead of waiting for the right time, the best thing is to start where one stands, work with available tools and better tools will be found as the journey progresses.
With the recent Develop Ondo 2.0 summit, the state government has hit the ground running. The summit brought several business tycoons and Entrepreneurs to Ondo state for a three-day deliberations on the way forward for the state and how best its potential can be harnessed. This summit created the avenue for discussions geared towards making the state a pride among its equals in Nigeria and by extension, the continent of Africa. With this, one can easily project that by year 2050, Ondo State particularly the state capital would have become the ‘Nigeria Dubai’ where investors will be competing for space.
No doubt, Ondo State is blessed with various mineral resources most of which lie fallow beneath the earth. Studies have shown that the State has over 42 billion barrels of bitumen in place with a reported overburden varying between zero and 50 meters, which makes for easy access and exploitation with extensive seepages in some locations. Probable reserves of recoverable bitumen in Ondo State are estimated to be about 156 million metric tons (1.016 billion barrels). Past efforts have prepared the ground for the commencement of the commercial exploration of this proven high-quality bitumen/oil sand that has multiple uses.
Also, Ondo state is one of the oil-producing states in Nigeria with one of the largest natural gas deposits in the world. Among other mineral raw materials, the state has large deposits of Granite, Marble, Gold, Gemstone, Clay, Diorite, Lignite and with the recent approval of the Deep Sea Port, it is believed that the state will be home to the largest deep sea port in West Africa.
As earlier anticipated by the Acting Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, that Develop Ondo 2.0 Investment Summit would serve as a catalyst for economic transformation, a beacon of hope for progress, a spur to the spirit of innovation that defines the state and prosperity of the people, Develop Ondo 2.0 summit has exposed investors from all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria to the various business potentials in the state of which majority have indicated interest to be major stakeholder and partner in progress towards making the state the envy for all.
With the projected attraction of $2 billion in investments the creation of 70,000 new jobs, engage with 100 donor partners and 1,500 investors, the summit demonstrated the state’s ambitious vision for a vibrant and thriving economy that uplifts the people and enriches their lives.
The summit has clear objectives which are: to showcase the State’s investment potential, promote it as a premier investment destination, and foster a conducive business climate that attracts both local and international investors. Indeed, it was a platform that connected stakeholders from diverse sectors, facilitating constructive dialogue, knowledge sharing, and the forging of strategic partnerships that would be the catalyst for accelerated development in the State.
Agriculture, with its abundant arable land and favorable climate, presents vast potential for agribusiness ventures, agro-processing, and value-addition industries. This summit, no doubt ignited the interest of agricultural experts and has exposed them to the abundant natural resources in agriculture and forestry. The State is the largest producer of cocoa in Nigeria, with the availability of other agro-raw materials such as maize, yam, plantain, kola nut, coffee, coconut, vegetables, timber, banana, rice, cotton, piggery, cassava, fish, palm oil and rubber in commercial quantity across the state.
In addition, the tourism sector holds enormous promise, with the State’s captivating landscapes, wildlife reserves, historical sites, and cultural heritage which already attract visitors from far and near.
Also, the realm of renewable energy points to us a greener and more sustainable future. Ondo State is blessed with abundant renewable energy sources, such as solar and biomass, making it an ideal location for investments in renewable energy generation and related infrastructure.
With the implementation of the deliberations of this summit, it is expected that the question of why the state remained stagnant when it has the potential of being the economic hub of Africa will be laid to rest. It is believed that the State government is now prepared and the state is ready for the imminent industrial revolution.
Worthy of mention is the activity of the Performance and Project Implementation Monitoring Unit (PPIMU) of the State government which has been a driving force behind promoting the one administration principle in the State.
Through effective facilitation of collaboration amongst Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the private sector, and donor partners such as the European Union,
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), PPIMU has exemplified the importance of unity and shared responsibility in achieving the government’s objectives as it spearheaded the development of critical policy documents, including the state Industrial Policy and Investment Guide which laid the groundwork for guiding investment decisions and policy reforms in the State.
A lot has been said in the Develop Ondo 2.0 summit and now is the right time to act. Enough of deliberations and talks. The right time to take action in actualizing the aims and objectives of the summit is now. The resources and potential are there and it is glaring for all and sundry to see. The State government needs to take the bull by the horn if it will indeed be the business hub of the African continent because no investor will come to invest in the state if the government fails to make the first move.