General Electric has flagged off the construction of its $1 billion engineering service, manufacturing and assembly facility in Calabar, capital of Cross River state, Nigeria.
The ground breaking ceremony was a follow-up to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Nigeria and GE signed on the 31st of January.
The agreement commits the American multinational to invest $1 billion on Multi-Model manufacturing and industrial services at the Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ).
Nigeria’s Vice president, Namandi Sambo, who stood in for the President said the deal would further strengthen the confidence of both local and foreign investors in the country’s business environment, enhancing the government’s transformation agenda.
“I will like to assure new and prospective investors both local and international that Nigeria’s power sector remains a veritable viable market for investment”, Sambo said.
He added that President Jonathan’s administration was committed to the growth of Nigeria’s economy through the employment of policies and projects that would ‘ increase production activities, generate job and wealth creation.’
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Mr Olusegun Aganga, said the investment – which involves $250 million capital expenditure and over $800 million incremental spending on local sourcing of goods and services -is expected to create 2,300 jobs and make Nigeria the regional hub for GE’s manufacturing service and renovation in Africa.
He further noted that the ceremony proves the government is not only interested in investment commitments but in monitoring the process to the execution stage.
Meanwhile, GE said it is investing in Nigeria to help the country in actualizing its electricity and infrastructural agenda marked under its ‘vision 20-20-20’, stating its readiness to provide stable power supply and infrastructure for the West African nation.
The global vice president of General Electric, Mr John Riise noted that Cross River was picked ahead of seven other states because of its conducive business environment, stressing that the state government was instrumental in the choice as it provided the company with assurances.
He further revealed that the billion dollar investment is GE’s biggest in Sub-Saharan Africa adding that the project in Calabar is one of two of its kind in the world under its Greenfield Investment Drive – The other is in Romania.
In 2009, GE signed a landmark country-to-company agreement with the federal government, aimed at forging a strategic partnership that would see the two parties working together on high growth opportunities and investment in support of Nigeria’s transformation objectives. A further three MoUs where signed in 2012 for the energy, healthcare and rail transportation sectors.