Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has said that the narrative of Africa Rising will be but mere rhetoric except governments and other stakeholders take decisive action to harmonise plans, provide incentives and the support structures that will accelerate industrialisation on the continent.
He said that much as there is the talk about Nigeria joining the bandwagon to meet demands of the age of technology, there is still need to grow an industrial base that would ensure the country doesn’t become a dumping ground for discarded technology.
Governor Obaseki said this in commemoration of African Industrialisation Day proclaimed to be marked on November 20 by the United Nations General Assembly, in 1989, which set the framework of the Second Industrial Development Decade for Africa (1991-2000). The United Nations System ever since has held events on November 20 to create awareness on the need for the industrialisation of the continent and tackle impediments to this goal.
The governor said that the state government has a robust industrialisation plan that has since kicked off with the ground-breaking of the Benin Industrial Park, which is heralding the industrialisation of the state.
According to him, “The Benin Industrial Park is the first of a series of Industrial Parks to be built in Edo State. We recognise the role of industrialisation in growing per capita income and as well as in ensuring that a lot of people are lifted out of poverty. This is why we have tied our agricultural polices to the industrial policy to ensure that much as we are engaging thousands of our people in agriculture, the industries are buying off the produce and making them into finished or semi-finished goods.
“The focus on technical education, for us, is also part of the industrialisation drive because it is these young people that will be engaged in the industries. So, we are taking a holistic approach to industrialising the state.”
Obaseki said that it was imperative to discuss how far the continent has come in the march to industrialisation especially as trade treaties and agreements as well as the antics of some of the political elite may have led the continent to record low progress.
He stressed that it was necessary for governments, the business elite and other actors in the space to genuinely commit to developing the industrial base of the continent, especially with the pangs of low production, youth unemployment and low utilisation of the continents human and natural resources to drive industrialisation.
“We produce raw materials, but that is not enough. We need to build capacities and technologies to be able to convert these to finished goods that will not only address our local problems but also allow us participate significantly in global trade,” he said.
He noted that the 2017 Theme of the celebration “African Industrial Development: A Pre-Condition for an Effective and Sustainable Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA)” was incisive, and provides a leeway to discuss the latent problems that have hindered intra-continent trade.
Meanwhile, Governor Obaseki joined the rest of the world to mark the World Toilet Day celebrated every November 19, noting that the imperative for good hygiene and sanitation was key in his plans to reform healthcare and public spaces in the state.
He said that the state government has embarked on a couple of initiatives such as Clean and Green Initiative that has brought sanity to public spaces in the state, especially Ring Road, New Benin and other parts of Benin metropolis.
On the World Day for Remembrance of Road Traffic Victims also celebrated on November 19 each year, Obaseki said that the state government commemorates with families of those who have died from road crashes.
He noted that the state government has revamped the Edo State Traffic Management Agency (EDSTMA) to be responsive to needs of road users.“More so, the state government has embarked on extensive road reconstruction and construction work to ensure that roads are in good condition for drivers while other aspects of the state’s transportation policy are being fine -tuned to ensure our roads are free of accidents .”