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There are big opportunities in Oyo State. As an administration, our job is to ensure we create opportunities that will be appealing to the private sector so they can come in and provide employment opportunities for 10% of the population who are presently unemployed, and create more opportunities to attract further investment. Permit me to share with you what these opportunities are and how you can take advantage of them.
In agriculture, we have created the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) They have been mandated to provide key insights on the specific areas of investment in Oyo State agriculture.
The land size in Oyo State is 30,000 square kilometres and about 80-85% of that can be utilised for farming. The climate in the northern part of Oyo State is derived-savannah and down south is rain forest which means anything can grow in our environment. Presently, we grow cash crops like cashews, mangoes, cocoa, cassava and corn/maize. Apart from cash crops, we have opportunities for livestock farming. We are planning our farm estates in nine locations scattered around Oyo State. The first two are set to kick off soon at Akufo and Eruwa. This presents great opportunities for the manufacturing and processing industries.
If you choose to come and site your factory in Oyo State, we have special business packages for you, each with unique benefits; we are incentivising investors. For example, we offer you land at unbeatable rates. I make bold to say if you get a better offer for the same value anywhere else in Nigeria, we will beat it. We are proud of our investors both local and foreign and so we are determined to make life easier for them. We extend the traditional hospitality of the good people of Oyo State through investment grants.
Our tourism sector offers opportunities for people in the hospitality business. You may know that Oyo State hosts one of two hanging lakes in the world at Oke Ado Mountain in Ado Awaye. The other, which is in the United States is in Colorado and receives over 131,000 visitors yearly. In addition, Oyo State hosts, Bower’s Tower, Agodi Parks and Gardens and Eleyele Lake. A keen eye will see the possibilities and grab them with both hands.
We also have opportunities in the Health, Education and Security sectors. We have gaps in these sectors that you can fill and we offer special incentives to encourage you. For instance, in the education sector, we had almost half a million out of school children. With our free basic education initiative, we witnessed an influx of students into schools. We know that some of these students will be better served by robust technical schools. Our administration does not have all the money to set up these schools.
So, we are ready to partner with you in setting up fully equipped technical colleges for our youths. As with the agriculture sector, we are willing to discuss incentives such as land and investment grants.
Another sector we have open for investment is the power sector. As at the last count, we had over 1.2 million residences in Oyo State. This is a huge market for energy investment. Our newly created Oyo State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources is already looking into alternate sources of energy so we do not rely solely on the national grid. Waste to Energy and Solar Energy, which I must say we have in abundance, are two areas we are exploring. We have aspirations for energy sufficiency in the state. We have had a study conducted that shows that the state can generate about 200MW from solar energy alone.
We have the comparative advantage that will guarantee a huge Return on Investment.
Oyo State is strategically located. The largest seaport in Nigeria is just about one hundred kilometres away.
With the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway, your materials can land at the Lagos Apapa Port and be cleared at the Ibadan Inland Dry Port just about two hours later.
We are also investing heavily in intra-city roads. Constructions are ongoing at Moniya-Ijaye-Iseyin Road, Agodi Gate to Old Ife Road to Airport, Adegbayi Ibadan road and more. We are ensuring that we have a road network that makes movement within towns and cities hassle-free. We also do not have an “Agbero” problem. Our well-coordinated Park Management System further ensures ease of commuting. Soon, we will be welcoming our metro buses into our roads.
You may be thinking, great pitch and you may in fact, be almost sold. I say almost because there is always the nagging issue that every entrepreneur considers before they take a plunge. For every opportunity, there is a challenge.
And so, in the spirit of transparency, I will be sharing with you some of the challenges that you may encounter trying to do business in Oyo State. But I will do more. I will not just tell you what these challenges are, I will tell you what we are doing to ensure that you overcome these challenges.
This is, in fact, one of the beauties of working with the Oyo State Government. We have studied the landscape from a business man’s perspective. Having been in the business world myself and opened businesses in various countries, I am fully aware of some of the issues that new investors encounter and we are doing our best to smoothen the process for you.
In Nigeria as a whole, we are facing the issue of insecurity. But in the Southwest and indeed Oyo State, things are relatively more peaceful. We have invested in securing the lives and properties of all within the borders of Oyo State through collaborations with the Federal Police. At the onset of this administration, we donated one hundred state-of-the-art security patrol vehicles to facilitate the movement and response time of the police. More recently, Oyo State has been at the forefront of the launch of the Western Nigeria Security Network code-named Amotekun. We have no doubts that Oyo State will join the ranks of the safest places in the world in no time.
Another issue that entrepreneurs often face is the ease of entry. Nigeria has become infamous for corruption and it has become normal to bribe officials to get things done. In Oyo State, we favour openness and transparency. We have an open-door policy and this makes for accountability. None of our officials is allowed to solicit or receive bribes and kickbacks. Earlier in our administration, we signed the Oyo State Investment Promotion Act and the Oyo State Financial Crimes Commission Act.
You will notice cultural and attitudinal differences which may seem shocking. Your proactiveness and focus may also be challenged. But with an open mind, you will soon overcome those. Your attitude has to be that of a missionary ready to adopt and adapt. On our part, we are working on making operations as seamless as possible. We are using technology and automation where possible to reduce human contact.
We are also providing training for civil servants directed at changing their orientation and mindset. I must say that the Oyo State Civil Servants are on our side of the fence. They want these investments as much as we do and so they are doing their part. We all know that change is neither easy nor automatic but we have their buy-in. Because we are making the government more people-centred by listening to them, they, in turn, are more willing to work with our administration. We also have a very effective feedback mechanism that ensures that people working against the system are ousted and such situations dealt with. So have no fear.
When it comes to acquiring permits, and this is an area where the usual bureaucracy and red tape leads to wasted man-hours, we have taken steps to cut down the time that is usually spent acquiring documentation. For instance, before now, it would take about three to four months to acquire your Certificate of Occupancy after purchasing land. We are keeping that process within two months. We know we can further simplify it, but this is just a start.
Coming from the Diaspora, especially the United States where you do not even think about power supply, to Nigeria where you have to factor in the cost of energy supply can be a huge burden. What we are doing in Oyo State is improving the power situation through investment in alternate sources of power. Presently, we are talking to Shell Nigeria Gas for gas supply and several other suppliers for the independent power project.
In all, I am happy to tell you that Oyo State is open for business.
It is our firm belief that we will build partnerships that will take Oyo State and indeed Nigeria to greater heights.
So, we extend our welcome in advance.
Ẹ ká àbò!