When Dr Ikpeazu emerged Governor of Abia State in 2015, one area he delved into with zest was the development of MSMEs in the state especially Aba hence the famed Made in Aba promotional activities. The efforts to support the growth of MSMEs in the state particularly Aba revealed some of the challenges facing the ecosystem one of which is the issue of power a major infrastructure for the growth of SMEs.
This led him to become part of resolving the intractable deadlock Geometric Power project was facing. Geometric Power Project was a private sector endeavour aimed at permanently resolving the electricity issues around Aba the light manufacturing hub East of the Niger.
It is on record that Governor led a powerful delegation from the state with the management of Geometric to the headquarters of Afrexim Bank twice to negotiate the processes that led to the deal signed in Durban in favour of Geometric Power Project.
The President of Afrexim Professor Benedict Oramah personally invited Governor Ikpeazu to Durban to be part of making history. It is only an ignorant person that can dismiss the significance of the deal signed in Durban to facilitate the energisation of Geomtric Power in Aba.
As the promoters of the project said, this will make Aba the first city in Nigeria with uninterrupted and uninterrutable Power supply. This will be huge for the hundreds of thousands of MSMEs operating in the Aba MSME ecosystem.
Records have it that the cost of Power supply occupies a huge chunk in the balance sheets of MSMEs anywhere in the world where electricity is a luxury. The role of electricity and power supply in any economy is not just obvious but cannot be over emphasized.
For Governor Ikpeazu anything that will lead to development in Abia will get his attention and he will never shy away from being present to show huge political and institutional support as required. The presence of Countries and States Chief Executives at such events is to boost investors confidence and credibility and also assure the Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) of the support of stakeholders.
During the signing ceremony, it was an elated Professor Oramah that broke deal signing protocol by inviting Governor Ikpeazu to express his feelings. Normally during such events once the signatures are appended, pictures taken the documents are exchanged, off everyone goes their way. But not this one, Professor Oramah, said ‘let me ask Governor Ikpeazu to tell us more what other dots he is connecting.’
The journey that got Geometric to the deal table wasn’t just to Afrexim in Egypt, it also included many diplomatic shuttles to Abuja, the Presidency and Ministry of Power. The Governor personally engaged everyone that had a role to play in untying the knotty issues that held the Geomtric Power Project down.
Beaming with smiles an excited Governor Ikpeazu maintained that if this was his only major achievement as Governor posterity will judge him positively. He assured all that the state government under his leadership will ensure that the entire process proceeds and concludes seamlessly. In conclusion Professor Oramah announced that with this step concluded, the processes to support the Enyimba Economic City Project has reach a major milestone.
Rising from the main hall of the Durban event, the deal maker Governor Ikpeazu moved over to the Nigerian pavilion to engage and conclude another solid deal for Abia State with the Nigeria Export Promotion Council. The deal was for NEPC to support financially and institutionally the establishment of Aba Export Resource Centre.
For those who do not know the importance of the Export Resource Centre, this too may not make so much sense. Today from Aba, over 2 million leather and garment products leave Aba weekly informally without following the proper channels of exports.
The results of this is huge loss of foreign exchange revenue, loss of data which is very importantfor planning and also to investors, lack of proper product pricing and loss of jobs and opportunities for these ingenious entrepreneurs. An Export Resource Centre will play a huge supportive role in organising exports out of Aba especially the MSMEs who may not be operating on a very large export scale. This would be the very first Export Resource Centre in any state in Nigeria. I am not sure this deal would have been possible without the presence of Governor Ikpeazu.
These two fruits of the Durban South Africa trip will bring immense benefits to the business community in Abia State especially Aba.
For those who believe, Abia under Governor Ikpeazu will continue to break new grounds and engage key stakeholders for the development of the state. The biggest word in the 21st century governance lexicon today is leverage, and this is one principle Governor Ikpeazu has applied during his administration, leveraging every opportunity and platform for the benefit of Abians. The MSME ecosystem in Abia has never remained the same since 2015 and more is in the offing in the days ahead.
This article is written by Chinenye Nwaogu.