Industrial Zones that are emerging in the South-West Geopolitical Zone (3)

Oyo state holds a lot of promise for investment opportunities in the agricultural sector, as a result of which it houses a number of agricultural research institutes. Among the research institutes are: the Institute of Agricultural Research Training – which conducts research into efficient use and management of soil and water resources for increased and sustainable agricultural productivity – located at the Obafemi University Ile-Ife; the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), located right there at Ibadan – whose mandate is to generate agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation; the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria; and the Nigerian Institute for Social and Economic Research.

Also established in the area is the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, the body that coordinates the activities of the National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs).

Despite these landmarks, however, most agro-based enterprises in Oyo and other Western States have regrettably gone out of existence. A few of the enterprises in Oyo State at present are mostly commercial operations, owned and managed by the Lebanese.

Before now, the native business and industry gurus who dominated the landscape in the past included Nathaniel Idowu, Amos Adegoke, Lekan Salami, Alao Arisekola, Adeola Odutola, Jimoh Odutola, Chief Theophilus Adediran Oni and others. Unfortunately, these famous entrepreneurs are all late with no credible replacements. The Odutolas owned a consortium of tyre and foam industries. Chief Theophilus Adediran Oni, popularly called T.A Oni & Sons started the first indigenous construction company in Nigeria. People like Chief Bode Akindele started companies like Standard Breweries and Dr Pepper Soft drink factory at Alomaja in Ibadan. Broking House was built by the late Femi Johnson, an insurance magnate, and so on and so forth. Exide Batteries, Leyland Autos and many others once thrived in Ibadan, too. In their places now are shopping malls and road side markets. Alas, no nation develops through buying and selling alone – especially when you’re not actually producing what you’re selling! Hypermarkets and supermarkets have taken over because of the need to feed our insatiable consumer-appetite and foreign tastes, on one side and lack of strategic plan on the other side.

Nevertheless, Oyo State remains a homeland to one of the largest tobacco companies in the country – the British American Tobacco, West and Central Africa (BAT WCA) – which is a part of the Americas and Sub-Saharan Africa (AmSSA) region, one of the four regions that comprise the British American Tobacco (BAT) Group.

BAT’s business presence in the West and Central Africa Area spans over a century, beginning with its acquisition of an equity interest in the Nigerian Tobacco Company (“NTC”) in 1912. By 1978, NTC (then jointly owned by British American Tobacco (“BAT”) and the Nigerian Government) had three operational factories located in Ibadan, Port Harcourt and Zaria – all in Nigeria. In July 2000, however, BAT incorporated British American Tobacco (Nigeria) Limited (“BATN”) and merged it with NTC in November of the same year. BATN kept its name after the merger and became a fully owned subsidiary of the BAT Group.

As part of its commitment to the terms of the MOU, BATN engaged in the construction of a state-of-the-art factory in Ibadan, Oyo State. The factory was commissioned and began operations on June 17, 2003. On April 12, 2005, the factory was certified NIS ISO 9001:2000 by the Standards Organization of Nigeria (“SON”) and has received additional certifications as well as NIS ISO 9001:2015 certification on October 10, 2017. Through this manufacturing hub, we produce and export our products to 14 markets in West and Central Africa.

There is also a large pharmaceutical company owned by Bond Chemicals that is currently in existence in Awe, Oyo State.

Ondo state has a huge industrial potential, which could be achieved through harnessing the huge agriculture resources and mineral deposits of the area. Bitumen exploitation by the federal government has suffered persistent setback in the past. The delay in the utilization of the huge deposits of bitumen lying on the 5-8 km long coast line between Lekki (Lagos State) and Ondo States and beyond, meant to augment refined oil stock of Nigeria has actually slowed down the pace of development in the area. Had it been that the South-West States began in time to process bitumen for road asphalt/ tar and other alternative energy source, they would have gone a long way by now.

Similarly, the cocoa industry in Ondo State has also been neglected for a long time but there is still room for its resuscitation. Indeed, it was mainly for the reason of harnessing the massive natural resources for industrial development, including cocoa produce for the cocoa industry, that Ondo state has established the Ore Industrial Park (OIP), and licensed several local industries to operate in the Park located in Ore town. It may be recalled that Ore town is the headquarters of Odigbo LGA of the state.

OIP, which is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between Ondo State government and Hessmac Industry Limited, was established on a massive 1000 hectares of industrially zoned land. Gradually, a number of private-sector led industrial initiatives and other foreign investors across the globe, are being attracted to the territory. Among the foreign firms are Hessmac Industry Limited, Cintelli Group, which are both owned by Turkish investors; and the Linyi Group that is associated with the Linyi Municipal Government of Shandong Province in China.

Other industrial groups are the Panther Group from USA, the Indian consort, several Nigerian companies like Denki Cables and Wire, and ASB Ceramics. The Park furthermore provides industrial space for the first ever Medium Density Fibre (MDF) Factory in Nigeria, as well as a High-Density Fibreboard (HDF) and Plywood production line. Within the industrial park also is the first locally produced lace fabrics in the state, which are certified by the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON).

Investors are truly responding to this recent novel industrial revolution stride of the Ondo State Government that is taking off from Ore; the aim being to turn Ondo State to a model of a one-stop industrial park in the country. Many business analysts see this as one of the best business decisions the state has ever taken, as it has changed the narrative of the state from being a civil service-driven economy to an industry-based economy. Based on the fast pace of its development, the OIP management currently projects that the business hub would create about 120,000 jobs in the next five years.

The most attractive incentive provided by the state government is land, with the federal government backing it up with electricity infrastructure and some agricultural funding, to be used in transforming some of the agricultural produce into industrial value chains. The strategic importance of the federal support was to ensure that the industrial revolution is sustained through a process of backward integration, considering that the state has huge agricultural and solid mineral potentials. The hub is currently running on already completed 30MW trio-fuel Independent Power Plant dedicated to providing power within the park. Thus far, the Ore Industrial Hub has within just a couple of years of its existence come to be rated as Nigeria’s highest-volume cassava to ethanol factories, producing 300 metric tonnes of ethanol every day.

Apart from the vision of providing massive employment to the youth, OIP has the mission to empower the youth, provide start-up amenities to them, in addition to uplifting Nigeria’s technology and industrialization.

There would be no need for the youth to bring their equipment as there is enough space and infrastructure for production in order to encourage local people. In place is provision for industrial training school, SMEs section for skill acquisition, product hub that caters for micro level of manufacturing at minimal cost and maximum profit for the people. Apprentices would be given priority of employment at the Industrial Park which affords tremendous benefits for the recipients and economic growth and development for the state and country.

Of interest here is the local content practice. The ratio of employment of local people to that of expatriates is, by policy, in the range of 40:1 – which is in favour of Nigerians. Furthermore, farmers benefit directly from supply of raw materials, and the multiplier effects have stimulated local engagement and partnership, logistics, construction, financial and other services of the economy.

The strategic plan of the Ondo State government is to turn the southern part of the state to a commercial hub, the northern district for large scale agriculture, and the central part for establishing link-up technology and innovation support centres.

The OIP is also targeting the production of high-volume vehicle assembly and production plants, wine distilleries to process the raw, dairy factory to process milk from cattle, clothing and metal production factories among several others.

Significantly too, within the Free Trade Zone of situated nearby, the Ondo State government is currently planning to establish a deep seaport in the state, in collaboration with the federal government so as to put in place the prerequisites for an ambitious industrial revolution drive.

The construction of the Ore Interchange (flyover), complemented by the Aboto-Olokola road, the Ore-Okitipupa Road, is a set of other impactful infrastructural projects meant above all considerations to put an end to the constant huge loss of lives and goods often experienced on the dangerous road intersection around the area; and basically also to serve the transportation need of the park optimally.

Osun State, also located in the South-West part of Nigeria, is a suitable place for locating particularly agricultural and solid mineral business ventures. The most promising industry in the state at the moment is the Cocoa Industry, which processes over 20,000 tonnes of cocoa daily. Osun State is also a centre for the chemical industry, the most prominent of which include Samtop Paint Chemical Industries, Criss Cross Integrated Services, and Webring Integrated Services Limited.

The case of a virtual absence of industrial activities in other states of the South-West Region is most pronounced in Ekiti State. Ekiti’s case is really sad, and nearly so for Ondo; the rich natural resources at the disposal of Ondo State in particular notwithstanding.

Series Navigation<< Industrial Zones that are emerging in the South-West Geopolitical Zone (2)Industrial Hubs that are evolving in the South-South Geopolitical Zone (1) >>


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