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Anambra, Serious and Apt for Business

By Chuka Nnabuife 

ONCE the bus crossed the Bridge Head of River Niger into Onitsha, Anambra State, everyone in the commercial vehicle became alert. 

Passengers were edgy. Even the bus driver was pulsed-up. 

He spoke in snaps, taking quick glances, front, left, right and the hind mirror as he drove ahead.

The sense of increased self consciousness was so high in the vehicle that the bursting energy of anxiety was high and obvious even when invisible. 

Every commuter became very conscious of his effects. As the bus moved towards the popular Upper Iweka Flyover where there is a confusing convergence of overhead and under route expressways and many transport lines have their terminals the anxiety became higher.

The notoriety of Upper Iweka, a perennial hub of brisk activities a deadly collective of rough boys, thugs, street urchins, pick pockets, handbag snatchers and just all sorts of odious goons, did not help matters. 

Once out of your bus, nobody tells you 'welcome to Onitsha' because you will surely know you are there, and quickly head for your business.

That's how it  has been since the 1970s. That part of Onitsha has lived with her rough and tough reputation but the entire commerce city of over two million persons has, since the 1940s been gold mine for business people. 

The city on the shore of rivers Nigeria and Omabala, is home to some of the largest markets for fast-selling-commodities (FSC) in Africa where enterprises in pharmaceutical supplies merchandise; home accessories; technical fabrications and cottage manufacturing excel as as patronage flows in from all over Nigeria and Sub-Sahara Africa.

Despite distracting tales and at times  sensationalized realities of insecurity and political partisanship, Onitsha still bustles in business as operators reap well from their toil.
Similarly, twenty kilometers southwards, from Onitsha is Nnewi, a land of one million plus inhabitants where people from across Nigeria and parts of West Africa head for auto mobile spare parts, business goes on.

 Nnewi is the homestead of Chief Innocent Chukwuma's Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing Company, the indigenous Nigerian automobiles manufacturing firm that is currently making impressive inroads into the pleasure cars and utility vehicles markets of several African countries.

In Umunya, a town ten kilometers, northwards from Onitsha, another Anambra son is building another automobiles' manufacturing firm which the Anambra State governor, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo  has confirmed that he will soon unveil.

Some more firms of heartwarming posture, in a variety of sectors are opening up or doing ground-breaking across the state. 

During The Anambra Investment Summit 2023, held at the International Convention Center, Awka on Thursday, September 7, Gov. Soludo signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) with over 20 of such new companies that have just berthed in the state. 

The sectoral spread of the new ventures is impressive, from auto manufacturing to pharmacy firms, ultra-modern hospitals, hospitality companies, goods' manufacturers, logistics providers, information and  communication technology (ICT) enterprises to others.

Organising agency, the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) tagged the event, 'Laying the Foundation for a Prosperous and Smart Mega City'. 

Speaking during the event that drew noteworthy attendance from captains of industries and some of Nigeria's corporate bulls, Prof. Soludo, explained his keenness to make Anambra a hub of industries and services, not only to provide jobs but to create a bouyant, robust economy and a homeland where every resident will have a rich and rewarding life.

He said that the mission to build the "smart mega city" is hinged on attracting relevant investment from both local and foreign partners, Nigerians from all parts of the country, ndi Anambra at home and diaspora as well donor agencies. 

Towards the industrialization and smart mega city dreams, Anambra has evolved plans for the creation of a free trade zone and approached the continental export and import trade development agency, AFREXIMBANK for partnership in the project. Representatives of the Cairo, Egypt-based development bank, established in 1993 for financing, promotion and expansion of intra-African and extra-African trade, in the summit visibly upbeat about the Anambra initiative.

In same direction, Anambra has commissioned a Canadian firm to design masterplan for rail lines that will link waterfronts and ports in the state.

The state government has engaged a Canada-based infrastructure advisory firm, CPCS Transcom Limited, to design the rail routes.

The government disclosed earlier this week that the rail lines would run from Onitsha port through the Oseokwa Port in Ihiala, and connect Nnewi, Aguata to the state's boundary with Abia and Imo states.

With such infrastructure, Anambra would eventually achieve its craved status as a coveted investment destination. The state's visible efforts to come top in ease-of-doing-business index which made it rank seventh recently, in the official ranking of all the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja adds to buttress her seriousness for business.

If any doubt is still harboured anywhere on Anambra's aptness as investment destination, recent developments have dismissed them 
Many issues have been thrown up on the viability of investing in Anambra State at this period of tricky security situation in some parts of the state and heady political propaganda, flagging the government's intense drive for internally generated revenue (IGR), particularly through zestful tax collection.

Unfortunately, most of the issues raised are  opinions not real questions that eagerly wait for answers. Given the difficulty in communicating effectively to a person whose mind is made up on a matter, it is an uphill task, trying to persuade the biased to see things as they are, instead of how he or she assume it. But the concrete efforts of the state's government make explaining to doubting Thomases easier.

Politics, aside, the Soludo government is working the talk on providing incentives for investment. It is providing what investors need.
Proceed and investment go together. 

Their common modes of communication are 'profit' and 'loss'. Hard, cold facts, bereft of emotions or other sensational biases benchmark the language of investment.

Broken down, the investors' guiding probe in every investment before he or she commits funds is: 'what is in it for me?'
Any other inquiry is built around the question. That is why the identification of Anambra State as a worthy destination for investment, at least in the South East of Nigeria, meets the prism test.

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