ANYONE WHO regards Rivers State as just another Nigerian state may need to reflect on the wealth of opportunities available within it. Time spent here would allow anyone become aware of the seeds sown by its agricultural base and modern transport system.
Earlier in 2012, the leading international financial analysis agency Standard & Poor (S&P) gave Rivers State a ‘B’ international rating. The long-term outlook for the state improved from its 2011 rating of “stable” to this year’s “positive”. Important infrastructural investments in areas like roads and health care have helped improve the state. Standard and Poor also mentioned that Rivers State has a strong liquidity base.
Agricultural possibilities abound. The majority of Nigerians are employed through this, the country’s largest industry. Earlier this year, Rivers State penned an agreement with the Israeli LR Group for a $140 million investment. Alongside the primary sector, there is the industrial sector, including agro-processing and 2,000 hectares of farming. There is also good news on the employment front with about 4,000 new workers expected to be employed within the next few years.
Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State, outlined the possibilities it has for investment when he said: “Rivers State is well and truly open for business. We welcome investors, both local and foreign, to come and take advantage of the many opportunities we offer and help us improve the life chances of everyone here.”
Mr. Amaechi spoke about 900,000 tonnes of fish per year being produced in River State. These, he says, are by people coming to Nigeria from outside and who wish to develop the state.
Transport has also become a significant part of the Nigerian development agenda. Mr. Amaechi said that Nigeria will be the first country in Africa to develop a monorail. The project will consist of two phases. The first one will finish in December 2013 while in July 2014, phase One B will be completed.
Educational foresight can help any country progress. It is one of the most important aspects of Mr. Ameachi’s reign and highlighted by the state’s desire to drive the educational agenda. Rivers State has joined forces with British council which engaged Cambridge University to train teachers. At the moment there are over 500 schools at various stages of completion with 24 secondary schools also being constructed. Spending on education also tells an ambitious story: the Rivers State government has increased educational budget to N9 billion (around $57, 179,160).
As a final message, Mr. Amaechi mentions the welcome foreign investors will receive in Nigeria and Rivers State.
“There are very hospitable people ready to welcome you to do business, and please contact the government if you encounter any problems. There are laws to protect you which you may not know about, and we will pursue those who disturb your business on your behalf,” he says.