General Electric (GE) is set to commence work on the construction of its multi-billion naira engineering manufacturing plant at the Calabar Free Trade Zone, Mr Sadiq Kasim, General Manager of the zone, said. Kasim, who spoke at the National Good Governance Tour team in Calabar on Tuesday, said that the management of the zone and the company had finalised arrangements for construction work to commence on the construction of the factory at the free trade zone.
Kasim said the company had promised that it would, in the first phase of the project, invest more than N250 million in the establishment of the plant.
"Any moment from now, work on the site of GE’s engineering manufacturing plant will commence. We have given them land and very soon their engineers will mobilise to site and start work; they said they will be committing about N250 million in the first phase", he said.
Kasim said that the plant would be designed for the manufacture of generator turbines for power plants, coaches for trains, engines for aircrafts as well as hospital equipment, among others.
He added that about 300 Nigerian professional engineers and technicians would be employed in the factory and that provision would be made for the training of young Nigerians through the company’s technology transfer programme.
In his remark, the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, expressed happiness that efforts of the Federal Government in attracting foreign investment to the country were beginning to yield results.
Maku described GE’s investment in the manufacturing plant as unprecedented.
"The announcement by General Electric to set up a plant here is the most important international endorsement of Nigeria as a safe haven for investment in Africa. It is the single most important investment for Nigeria since 1960. What is significant about this project when completed is that Nigeria will now acquire the technical capacity for high-level manufacturing on the continent", he said.
He said the investment was one of the many evidences that the present administration was making progress, saying Nigeria would soon become the hub for GE’s operations in Africa.
The team also inspected other facilities and businesses at the zone that were geared towards enhancing job creation.
Mr Richard Bassey, the head of Public Relations at the zone, said that the 25 companies operating in the zone had employed more than 5,000 workers directly.
He said more than 1,000 others were indirectly involved in other jobs created through the activities generated from the free trade zone.
Bassey said that the monthly internally-generated revenue of the zone stood at between N80 and N100 million.
The team inspected ongoing work at the new Calabar International Convention Centre that was designed to complement facilities at the Calabar Tinapa Business Resort.
It will be recalled that GE signed an agreement with the Federal Government in January for the establishment of the plant in Calabar.