Uzodimma, Afrexim Bank unveil Imo’s Africa quality assurance centre

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Governor Hope Uzodimma has recorded another feat in his administration’s determination to boost commerce and industry in Imo State as he was joined Monday by officials of the Africa Import-Export (Afrexim) Bank to unveil the second Africa Quality Assurance Centres (AQAC) in the State.


The unveiling ceremony took place at Umuowa in Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of the State amid pomp and circumstance from the host community and attracted the high and mighty in Imo State.


Also in attendance were foreign investors who are Afrexim Bank’s partners such as representatives of Hassan Allam, Elsewedy Electric and Bureau Veritas. Afrexim Bank local partner, Fidelity Bank was also represented.


Before unveiling the Centre along side Afrexim Bank officials and other critical stakeholders, an excited Governor Uzodimma said, in his remarks, that the project will catalyse inter and intra trade businesses that will facilitate industry and job creation in Imo State, boost her economy and that of the adjoining States, in line with his administration’s Shared Prosperity Agenda.


The Governor thanked the President, Management and Board Members of Afreximbank for the choice of Imo State and expressed delight to participate in the unveiling just as he sincerely welcomed the delegation of Afrexim Bank partners from Egypt.


He described the Centre as a world class facility that will certify export of goods for Imo State and other States within the area and reduce the losses incurred in the past by exporters.


Also, the Governor said that the investment is in alliance with the Shared Prosperity plan of his administration anchored on job creation and reduction of unemployment, and assured that the decision to cite the multi-billion naira facility in Imo State will be justified.


He acknowledged that Imo State is central to other States surrounding her and that Imo people will give the investors all the necessary support they need to succeed having themselves “helped to include Imo State in the World map of trade and business.”


Governor Uzodimma also promised to provide the conducive environment for the Investors businesses, noting that “Igbo people at the end of the day will be the first beneficiary.”


He called on the Ngor Okpala Community, the traditional institutions and the entire Imo citizens to take ownership of the project.


Governor Uzodimma highlighted that Imo State is prepared for international business, engaging in the dredging of Orashi to the Atlantic Ocean, creating Orashi Free Trade Zone, working hard to harness the abundant gas deposit in the State that has necessitated the signing of Orashi Electricity Company Limited pact with an Egyptian Company, Madkour Group.


The Governor said all the efforts are aimed at encouraging the oil and non-oil products and trade in Imo State.


On behalf of the people and government of Imo State he asked the investors to take the State’s assurance to the Bank and have confidence we must work hard to justify the reason for setting up this Centre.


His words: “I am very delighted to participate in this ceremony. What the bank has done and still doing is to provide homegrown solution. I recall how our people were subjected to untold scrutiny just to export the African products. Now the Afrexim Bank has risen to the occasion and is bringing solution.


“From what I have seen, any certification derived from here cannot be subjected to another scrutiny. I am happy Imo is the second to have this Centre in Nigeria. The Nigeria National Development Plan is in line with this.


“My administration in Imo is centred on prosperity for all which is to activate opportunity for economic growth. Afrexim Bank decision to cite this project here will not be regretted. I have no doubt we will have a win win situation. We will give you every support you need to achieve results. It will create jobs for our people. The economic gains coming out of this project, surely, we will be the ultimate beneficiary. We will support it to encourage foreign direct investment in Imo.”


Earlier in his remark, the President and Chairman of the Board of the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Prof. Benedict Oramah, said the Centre would end the era of African products being rejected at the international level.


Prof. Oramah was represented by the Executive Vice President, intra-African trade, Afrexim Bank, Mrs. Kanayo Awani.


In her address, Mrs. Awani said that it takes strong political will and leadership backed by capital from Africa, “as the best force of our people, to achieve economic growth and transformation.”


She noted that Africa Quality Assurance Centre is aimed at protecting African exporters businesses that have suffered huge losses in the past and that Afrexim Bank has committed $100million in the project to protect African businesses.


She highlighted that the target is to assure quality and standards in agricultural products and other such goods bound for exports from Africa.


Mrs. Awani emphasised that Imo State was chosen because of her central location and as a State that has abundant agricultural and food produce, cash crops and lots of natural endowment. Besides, she added that Imo State provides industrial policy where the administration has decided to support investments and projects.


She concluded that when AQAC is completed in Owerri, Imo State will be rebranded as “investors destination and will soon be a major player in International trade.”


Mrs. Awani words: “With the unveiling of the Africa Quality Assurance Centre, what it means is that products made in Africa, Nigeria and Imo will meet international standard and safety as well as ensure that products meet regulations and quality so as to meet the technical and certification of products that it requires.


“Imo is ideal location for this project because of its centrality. And Imo is known for agriculture and food production. Again, what attracted us to Imo was because we looked at the industrial policies of the State and we found an alignment and that is why we are here to construct on the five hectares of land provided to us.”


Mrs Awani noted that it was a big feat Governor Uzodimma achieved by attracting the facility to Imo State after Ogun State that houses the maiden Centre in Nigeria and used the opportunity of her remarks to appreciate Governor Uzodimma for his foresight and commitment to programmes that will enhance the economic wellbeing of the people.


She further used the occasion to advice foreign investors to take advantage of the abundant commerce and industry products as well as human capital in Imo State to advance their business interests.


Earlier while adding her voice, the Afrexim Bank Director of Export Development, Mrs. Oluranti Doherty, said: “This is the second Africa Quality Assurance Centre (AQAC) in Nigeria. One of the key challenges to our various African exporters in accessing regional and international trade is lack of compliance with quality standard regulations. So to resolve this, we set up this African Quality Assurance Centre to assist grow African economy.”


She reiterated that Imo State was chosen for its strategic location, the Imo International Airport and her central position in the Eastern Heartland.


Furthermore, Mrs. Doherty said that the Bank had assessed and discovered investment opportunities in the State, hence they decided to allow Imo take her pride of place through the location of the facility on trade and export.


She also thanked, on behalf of her Bank, Governor Uzodimma, the Government and people of Imo State for providing them the five hectares of land for the citing of the facility which she noted, “will very much improve the economy of Imo State, the South East and Nigeria in general.”


The Deputy Governor, Lady (Dr.) Chinyere Ekomaru, the Senator representing Okigwe Zone, Senator Patrick Ndubueze, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, the APC Deputy National Chairman (South), Chief Emma Enukwu, APC State Chairman, Sir MacDonald Ebere, members of the National and State Assemblies, members of the Imo State expanded Executive Council, traditional rulers, captains of industries, among others.

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