Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Godwin Obaseki made history yesterday with the inauguration of projects capable of restoring hope in Edo State.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo runs an office with soft spot for small and medium enterprise. The office also cherishes the magic technology hubs are capable of igniting. It was thus not surprising that it has collaborated with the Edo State government in these areas.
Governor Godwin Obaseki, who has ample experience from the boardroom, horned through years of brokering deals as an investment banker, appears to be on a mission to rebrand governance. And in Osinbajo, he has an ally.
The Vice President yesterday launched the South-South Innovation Hub in Benin and met with Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). He also was at the Edaiken Market and thereafter performed the groundbreaking of the 1800-unit Emotan Gardens and the Edo Azura Power Plant.
Osinbajo’s collaboration with Edo earlier saw him inaugurating the Edo Chemical and Fertiliser Company Limited, Auchi and doing the groundbreaking of the Benin Industrial Park (BIP).
Some of these projects are in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President. The housing project and the expanded Edo Innovation Cluster, which houses the South-South Innovation Hub, are efforts by the Obaseki administration to reset the local economy for growth and expansion. The Innovation Cluster will train young people on top-of-the-range skills to stimulate a local tech ecosystem. This will empower youths to provide digital solutions to everyday problems.
1,800-unit of housing project
This project is a plus for local manufacturers and low income earners. The Emotan Gardens in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area of Edo State is remarkable in a lot of ways. It is the first government housing project in Edo State in the last 16 years. The project is being developed through a joint-venture partnership between Edo Development and Property Agency (EDPA) and MIXTA Africa, a private property development company.
EDPA Executive Chairman Isoken Omo said the Gardens would also be the first of kind, given the scale, offerings and class.
Mrs Omo said the project was well planned to provide affordable homes, adding: “We are building affordable houses from bungalows to high-rise buildings with flexible payment plans. We have looked at the housing needs of the people of the state and know exactly what to do.”
Obaseki promised that the state would provide the land for the project and link local makers of building materials in the state to the project to ensure that costs were minimal.
“We want to use the project to develop the supply chain of inputs that are locally produced in the state. This would grow local businesses. We have insisted that raw materials to be used for constructing the 1,800-unit housing, should be sourced locally from industries in the state. This will assist the industries contribute to the growth of the local economy,” Obaseki said.
MIXTA Africa Managing Director Kola Ashiru-Balogun said the first phase of the project which, which commenced with yesterday’s ground-breaking ceremony by the Vice President, would be completed in 12 months.
The different payment plans being considered for the affordable housing project, he said, include a 24-month interest free payment plan, as “MIXTA Africa is discussing with financial institutions to see how arrangements can be made to provide longer tenured financing payment plans.”
The Innovation Cluster of hope
With yesterday inauguration of the hub, Edo has finally caught the tech bug. This collaboration between the Federal and state government will provide youths avenue to develop skills for survival in the digital economy and channel their strength for social good.
The Cluster, which is situated at the Institute of Continuing Education (ICE), in Benin City has been remodeled to meet the requirements of co-working spaces.
Obaseki said the facility “will host over 25 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies. These companies will use the facility as innovation hub for different forms of training and certification. Those that will benefit from the facility are both the young and old residents in the state as they will get skills and certification.”
Commissioner for Wealth Creation, Cooperatives and Employment Emmanuel Usoh said the facility was a testament of how public facilities could be transformed for effective use.
Usoh said over 25 technology companies would be accommodated in the hub. They include Google Cisco, Miscrosoft and Oracle. He explained that the Hub would up the skill youths, stimulate tech-focused small businesses and curb human trafficking and illegal migration.
Usoh said, “The hub will offer youths who are interested in travelling abroad for jobs, opportunities to acquire up-to-date skills in technology. The training programme will be as intense as obtainable in similar hubs across the world, as we are partnering with global companies in setting up the facility.
“International certifications will be obtainable at the hub. This will offer youths unique opportunities to discover their talents in the use of technology and improve these skills and promote innovation as the world has become a global village, where technology is key in transforming the society for the better.”
A partnership on MSMEs and Start-ups
Edo has witnessed an increasing focus as a hub for economic opportunities given the state government’s posture, which has promoted growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). With the coming of the Innovation clusters, more start-ups will find expression in the state, with the use of the facilities provided at the innovation hub.
At Hub, the state government, has provided the space and other structures for the hub, while the Federal Government is bringing in some experts to operate at the Southsouth hub. However, there is also a strong partnership between the state government and technology companies, which is likely going to make the facility one of the most equipped to accommodate start-ups in the region.
The commissioner said the Edo Innovation Hub would also accommodate a training facility where small business owners would be trained on how to leverage digital solutions to transform their businesses in line with Obaseki’s vision to create more jobs and wealth for the people.
”Individuals and groups who own small businesses in the state and intend to transform their businesses in line with global standards can acquire innovative skills at the hub,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Industry, Trade and investment Dr. Jumoke Oduwole explained that Edo State is part of the vast business corridor in the Southsouth, which explains its choice for the project.
The happenings in Edo have ended the era where Nigerians were exposed to tokenistic solutions to problems. Edo is taking governance beyond a borehole here, a road there, ill-planned agricultural initiatives and many such schemes. It has focused governance on intervention capable of improving livelihoods and do so much.