The Deputy High Commissioner of the British High Commission in Nigeria, Mr Peter Carter, says his Government will look at the opportunities which abound in Edo State with a view to attracting investors to the state.
Speaking today during a meeting with Governor Adams Oshiomhole in his office in Benin City, Mr Carter said: “I believe that there are good opportunities for British Companies most of which are keen to do business in Nigeria.
He said “we would like to explore with you how we can develop skills, how we can support and help you build up your human capital in a way that would bring credit to the economy of the state.
“In my office in Lagos, we have the Nigeria based investment office. The job is to encourage export and investments into Nigeria and there are a number of areas in the economy we would like to develop.
“We will encourage them to look beyond Lagos to other states in the South. We are keen to work with you in identifying trade investment opportunities which we think British Companies will be keen on taking advantage of.
He said the British Council has been active in retraining of teachers in a number of states, including Edo, adding that developing skills is a good way of developing the human capital.
In his response, Governor Oshiomhole identified poor power supply and lack of productive base as an impediment to the technological development of the country.
Oshiomhole said Nigeria must diversify her economy, saying given the rate of the population “it simply makes sense to think of a world without oil.
“I think it is clear to us and arguably that there is need to plan for the future. We are losing almost 40% of our oil production to theft and the revenue accruing to Edo State, just like other states, has fallen by about 35% even though oil is performing well in the international market. All of that is explained away by alleged oil theft.
“We have not always depended on oil, in fact, the old Midwestern Region, a lot of the land mark we can point to were not a result of revenue from oil, they were the result of the revenue from agriculture and some attempt to do some semi-processing to add some value.
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, it is just to return to where we are coming from. A country that relies on production and the value of job creation dictates that we must produce and develop our service sector and empower our people to be entrepreneurs in some scale businesses.
“For me the real impediment to diversifying the Nigerian economy and getting people to work and create an enabling environment for wealth creation and using the instrument of state to redistribute the wealth is basically power supply.
“I do not see what anybody will be able to do without sustainable power supply. Unfortunately as much as the federal government has tried to privatize the sector, they still have more unfair control of the sector. I can decide to locate an independent power plant in the state, we are very well located but under the present laws, you are obliged to serve the monopoly called the federal government or sell your output to the national grid as it is not a competitive market”, he said.