ANAMBRA, AN ECONOMIC FORCE @ THE MARKET PLACE
The global economy is shaky, largely due to the deepening of the Oil exporting countries’ economic decline, resulting from dwindling Oil prices at the International Oil market (in the recent times). Nigeria too is not left out; and hers’ is worsened by the challenges being recently experienced in the troubled Oil & Gas sector.
From Anambra state, the earlier we pull our strings fast, the better. The present economic instability being experienced in the country has created opportunities for Anambra’s economy (being at advantage with respect to capacity and potentials) to fill up gaps that require urgent substitutions for sustained provisions of some identified critical economic & commercial services, which if further delayed, exposes the vulnerable consumers to irreparable, colossal damages & disorderliness with eventual uncontrollable losses in the value chain. This requires that something be done fast to arrest such ugly situation from occurring because; the vulnerable states are prone to suffer the imminent adverse effects. Stability in the national economic equation shall be restored when solutions are provided to square up by striking a balance; and this; the coming Anambra Trade Fair has come to provide.
In running an enterprise, the entrepreneur is always expected to maintain a relationship that places his/her status in a manner of “no friend, no foe” in the course of striving for the interest of the organization (through the best practices & the legitimate means of running or doing business) towards achieving the aimed objective (to make profit). We all know that, profit is synonymous to economic growth.
Economic growth for an individual, corporate entity or state still remains “economic growth”. From any angle it is viewed, running the economy of a state/nation by patriotic leaders is strictly done on a 24 hours/7 all through the year, with serious focus on ways to avert “losses” (monetary, human capital, social factors that border on daily interactions) in governance. If one watches closely the records of all great leaders (both past & present), one would agree that; good governance is likened to the observations made on successful enterprises, and characterized by its attributes & virtues. Governance should always be run from the same angle as business concerns are ran because, no sane person voluntarily runs a business to make losses; and that is the attributes of patriotism.
Economically, this timing has set a stage for the state to do exploits with the critical factors at our disposal, which shall drive this economy (our rich natural resources, both human & materials). The world is waiting for us to use our greatest opportunity presently available to transform our economy through Investments and Industrialization. Part of this move is the recent partnership between the Association of Anambra Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (AACCIMA); and the National Association of Chinese Chambers of Commerce (powered by the Nigeria-China Window of Trade and Commerce).
In the course of deepening the existing mutually beneficial, bilateral relationships at various levels for the purpose of promoting Trade & Investment between the two countries; it is most pertinent to fast track & encourage greater interactions and trade amongst the entrepreneurs/operators in the organized private sector and their foreign counterparts, with a focus to achieving a sustainable boost in both economies, through the forum presently presented by the coming “Jubilee Fair” in Awka (from 25th Nov. – 9th Dec. 2016.
The AACCIMA, in endorsing the proposals initiated by the leaders of Investment Teams from China; has shown unwavering commitment towards encouraging the Chinese entrepreneurs to invest into Anambra’s economy (in the Manufacturing, Agriculture, Oil & Gas, Solid Minerals, Tourism and most importantly the Free Trade Zone project of Anambra state). This will foster Capacity building that shall facilitate cultural and educational exchange with tourism development programs (in the long run).
The already worked out, more flexible process & incentives that creates an attractive, conducive enabling business environment (for both local and foreign Investors) by the Anambra State Investment Promotions and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), is an improved and organized method of preparing a soft landing for investors as a very easy place to do business.
By this opportunity of launching an annual Trade event in Anambra, all Traders and Merchants (importing all kinds of goods from China and other countries, for instance) should capitalize on it, to woo their suppliers abroad to invest here (for the sake of continuity in their mutually beneficial business), when the dwindling rate of Naira at the FOREX market is considered, in addition to the fiscal policy of the government of the day that tends towards a diversified export economy with very slim chance for a free flow of imports (a Backward Integration & Import Substitution economic policy, for an expected multiple exports accruals/earnings; in view).
Picturing this perceived economic future, as a “win-win” situation for all trans-border partners concerned, which in the actual sense, offers less stress from FOREX rate that is void of any form of molestation or financial hiccups that translates to smooth flow of the said international business links to be actualized).
It is on this premise that I lend my voice and counsel to our numerous Trading Merchants, to key in to this all important Trade Fair, and exploit the opportunities it offers. Likewise in the same vein, the foreign Investors are assured of constant, uninterrupted and continuous flow of business activities (of which the ANSIPPA shall be handy to facilitate the repatriation of all funds/profits after Tax home).
This of course shall encourage our Investors to stream in and serve their Nigerian customers better, since there shall not be any iota of financial loss arising from the exchange rate. Very sincerely, if actualized, the eventual competitiveness (in line with the International standard) would bring about the needed sustainability in the economy; especially in a business environment with the strategic position similar to the likes of Onitsha markets; that play & control in the field of commerce worldwide (also known & reckoned with as “the powerhouse of commerce” in the sub-region)..
Most importantly, the Investor needs to understand very clearly that this is a golden opportunity to embark on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country, when the Investment Capital is put into consideration (due to our “perceived” devalued local currency). Take for instance, an Investment that needs about N50, 000, 000 to establish @ the exchange rate of N170/$; would presently require less than 50% of its $ denominated equivalent at today’s rate of about N415/$ (while their home country experiences very stable economy; making the foreign Investor a leverage to spend much less to establish in our Real sector).
The looming tough macroeconomic environment in the country (Economic Recession so to say) has already, started to take its toll on commercial activities by the daily price increases of all items in the market. The deepening of the Nation’s economic decline largely resulting from the troubled Oil & Gas sector; demands a sharp shift through a strategy that assures an improved revenue profile.
On this note we need to adopt survival strategies, to remain afloat in the face of our frail Macro Environment. For Anambra’s, with special reference to our visit to China, in company of the former governor, Peter Obi (the Shanghai World Expo in October, 2010) where Onitsha was showcased by the UN-HABITAT alongside three other cities from China, Brazil and Malaysia (excluding the fifth city from Morocco that didn’t attend) as the fastest growing medium-sized urban cities of the world.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Onitsha (like other cities of Nnewi, Awka or Ekwulobia), where thriving economic clime thrives naturally through the beehives of trading & commercial activities go on daily; play very strategic and vital roles in the course of the economy of our country in the field of commerce/trade.
Also in my speech during the Presentation & Unveiling of the Trade Fair Prospectus, I signaled that “Anambra is open for business” to all Investors now! This, coming on strong with the right infrastructure being provided by the state government; which includes Security for lives, assets & Investments, juiced with good community relations to protect Investors from undue community harassment.
The economic power possessed by the state lies in the fact that a lot of Anambra people (both indigenes and settlers) averagely exhibit enormous entrepreneurial talent and economic capacity, that collectively manifests as the great potentials that make Anambra a major economic force (and player to be reckoned with) at the International marketplace. It is on this note that our expected foreign visitors shall physically observe & have a rethink (without doubts/resistance that hinders) to Invest in the thriving & very conducive business clime.
Upon this fact, the presently confidence being reposed on Anambra’s trade relations & missions by the Association of Chinese Chambers of Trade & Commerce (in addition to other countries of the world) with special interest on Trade & Investment. The anticipated Free Trade Zone (FTZ)/Industrial Park project in Anambra state needs to operate in a manner that our foreign investors shall capitalize on the availability of both primary & intermediate (semi-finished) goods sourced from mining, agricultural and the petroleum sectors to produce (in commercial quantities with international standard quality) all the needed finished products at the FTZ/Industrial Park because, the world has now recognized Anambra as a viable destination for investors. The conserved value addition on the raw materials within the economy shall boost wealth creation and job opportunities for the teeming population of our youths out there in the labor market.
A significant observation and the required strategy for our economy in running the FTZ/Industrial Park could be analyzed with just one product. Molded articles (children’s toys) gulp/consume hundreds of millions of Dollars (annually) of our foreign exchange by the Nigerian importers/traders.
These products are plasticizers made from either maleic anhydride, 2,4 toluenediisocianate (TDI) or styrene (all are aromatic hydrocarbons/petrochemicals). We shall have these soon from our ongoing projects of methanol and the petrochemicals plants. My suggestion to the Government of Anambra state is to apply a strategy that:
1) Shall develop or boost the functioning of the FTZ/Industrial Park, and at the same time our foreign investors make huge investments in the manufacturing sector.
2) The FG come out with a policy of; ‘not outright ban’ on such goods and commodities but, place a very heavy/high tariff on such imported finished products/items (when their raw materials must have been made available by our methanol and petrochemicals plants in commercial quantities). This shall force both our local importers/traders and their foreign suppliers/manufacturers to rethink & open shops for the manufacture of same on our soils; for cost effectiveness and attractive profit margins for either party.
By this, Anambra shall be a diversified export-oriented economy as well as achieving our targeted aspiration to become “the sub-Saharan African commercial hub”. The fastest approach to eliminate poverty is to expand the economy on a continuous basis for sustained growth because; we need to climb the ladder of prosperity. I believe that we have been set on course for a sustained growth after the 2016 Anambra Trade Fair. Anambra needs adequate competence and very low corruption, waste and inefficiency that shall sustain growth by providing the needed push & support for private-sector investment in various industrial services. This is achievable through efficient macroeconomic management strategies & policies.
After a long period of economic failures experienced by “the giant of Africa” since Independence, the state is now poised as an emerging-market; for the world is waiting! I urge foreign Investors to visit Anambra this November/December, and invest therein!! Anambra is it!!!
Sunny C. Nwachukwu (FICCON)
VP Membership Development (ONICCIMA)