|President Goodluck Jonathan|
The ceremony was sequel to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the federal government and General Electric in January.
The MoU was signed by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, for the federal government, and the Global Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of GE, Mr. Jeff Emmelt, on behalf of the world’s renowned company.
Jonathan, who was represented by Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, noted that the groundbreaking ceremony would not only boost the administration’s transformation agenda, it would also further strengthen the confidence in the Nigerian business environment by both local and foreign investors.
He said it also confirmed the commitment of the federal government to revitalising the Nigerian economy within the lifetime of the current administration through policies and projects that would pave the way for increased production activities, job creation and wealth generation. In his remark, Aganga stated that the groundbreaking further demonstrated that the current administration was not just interested in investment commitments, but in monitoring the processes to the execution stage.
He noted that GE had, over the past 125 years, swiftly evolved to seize new opportunities created by changes in technology and the economy as a frontline multi-business organisation.
“It is therefore not surprising that the company has moved smartly to explore the favourable investment opportunities that abound in Nigeria. Today, the company is building new platforms in industries and markets with GDP growth that provide opportunities to apply acquired technology and management expertise to accelerate development and growth in both developed and emerging economies.
“The decision made in recognising the potential of Nigeria becoming your base, where other African countries would be served, will give a greater opportunity to demonstrate your innovation capabilities and home grown solutions to other African countries’ problems,” he added.
Aganga recalled that in 2009, GE signed a landmark country-to-company agreement with the federal government, aimed at forging a strategic partnership that would see the two parties working together on high growth opportunities and investment in support of Nigeria’s transformation objectives.
He also noted that in 2012, as part of the country-to-company agreement, GE and the federal government signed three MoUs for the energy, healthcare and rail transportation sectors.
The minister said: “Recently, precisely on 31st January, 2013, the nation recorded a milestone in its investment drive as the Federal Government of Nigeria and Messrs GE sealed an investment deal of $I billion dollars (N158 billion) on the establishment of a Best-in-class assembly in Calabar.
“I signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU), which gave birth to this significant event on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria while the Global Chairmen and Chief Executive Officer of GE, Mr. Jeff Emmelt, led other top executives to sign on behalf of the company.” He said the investment, which involved $250 million capital expenditure and over $800 million incremental spending on local sourcing of goods and services, was expected to create 2,300 jobs and make Nigeria the regional hub for GE’s manufacturing service and renovation in Africa.
Meanwhile, GE said it was investing in Nigeria to help the country realise its electricity and infrastructure agenda under Vision 20-20-20, Rice said the investment was in fulfillment of all the agreements the MoU which GE signed with the Federal Government of Nigeria stressing that the company was committed to helping the country provide stable public power supply and infrastructure for the citizens.
Nigeria, he added, holds great potentials for GE being the largest market in Africa hence the project in Calabar was one of two of its kind in the world under its greenfield investment drive and promised to work round the clock so that the factory is completed on schedule for production to commence.
The vice president said his firm will key into Nigeria’s local content policy by recruiting and training citizens of the country so that they fit into the corporation’s technology and work ethic noting that this was the policy of GE anywhere it has investment. The company hopes to start with 250 staff but the total staff projection on full operation is 2, 300.
‘’We will develop local content. The first thing we’ll do is to open a training centre here in Calabar. We will develop a workforce with strong capability and leadership skills. We chose Calabar because it is easy to figure out, has a serene environment and the state governor makes things easy for investors’’, he said.