GE begins construction of $1bn manufacturing plant in Calabar

By The Rainbow

Nigeria has scored an investment bull's eye as the high-tech General Electric company begins the process of establishing a manufacturing factory in Nigeria.

President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday performed a groundbreaking ceremony for the General the  $1 billion service and manufacturing facility in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

Experts have argued that Nigeria cannot achieve real growth and development without solid manufacturing base.

GE's invest is a major Foreign Direct investment inflow, which is expected to boost the industrial profile of the country.

GE and the Federal Government had earlier in January signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the project.

The MoU was signed by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, for the federal government, and the Global Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of GE, Mr. Jeff Emmelt, on behalf of the world's renowned company.

Jonathan was represented by Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The president said the investment  would not only boost the administration's transformation agenda, it would also further strengthen the confidence in the Nigerian business environment by both local and foreign investors.

According to him, it  also confirms the commitment of the federal government to revitalising the Nigerian economy within the lifetime of the current administration through policies and projects that would pave the way for increased production activities, job creation and wealth generation.

Aganga, on his part, said the groundbreaking was a clear indication that the current administration was practically committed to attracting quality investments.

The minister, while providing a background to the project, said that GE had, over the past 125 years, swiftly evolved to seize new opportunities created by changes in technology and the economy as a frontline multi-business organisation.

He said, 'It is therefore not surprising that the company has moved smartly to explore the favourable investment opportunities that abound in Nigeria. Today, the company is building new platforms in industries and markets with GDP growth that provide opportunities to apply acquired technology and management expertise to accelerate development and growth in both developed and emerging economies.

'The decision made in recognising the potential of Nigeria becoming your base, where other African countries would be served, will give a greater opportunity to demonstrate your innovation capabilities and home grown solutions to other African countries' problems.'

Also speaking at the event, GE vice president said the company was investing in Nigeria to help the country realise its electricity and infrastructure agenda under Vision 20-20-20,

Rice said the investment was in fulfillment of all the agreements the MoU which GE signed with the Federal Government of Nigeria stressing that the company was committed to helping the country provide stable public power supply and infrastructure for the citizens.

Nigeria, he added, holds great potentials for GE being the largest market in Africa hence the project in Calabar was one of two of its kind in the world under its greenfield investment drive and promised to work round the clock so that the factory is completed on schedule for  production to commence.

The vice president said his firm will key into Nigeria's local content policy by recruiting and training citizens of the country so that they fit into the corporation's technology and work ethic noting that this was the policy of GE anywhere it has investment. The company hopes to start with 250 staff but the total staff projection on full operation is 2, 300.

''We will develop local content. The first thing we'll do is to open a training centre here in Calabar. We will develop a workforce with strong capability and leadership skills. We chose Calabar because it is easy to figure out, has a serene environment and the state governor makes things easy for investors'', he said.