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Gov. Otu Woos Investors at Maiden Investment Summit

Cross River Governor, Prince Bassey Otu, has called on investors to take advantage of the comparative advantage which the state has to invest in various and existing sectors of the state' economy.

Otu made the call at the maiden edition of the International Cooperation and Investment Summit (ICIS), held at the Calabar International Convention Centre, Calabar, the state capital.

"The assemblage of these cerebral minds in this auditorium today is, therefore, a well thought out initiative by the current administration in the state to catalyze growth and development in the multiple sectors of the state through capital importation of foreign direct investments.

"Cross River serving as home to the largest Free Trade Zone with a near l-zero crime rate and welcoming disposition of the citizenry has greatly enhanced the investment friendly atmosphere of the state," the governor remarked.

According to him, the state has comparative advantage over every other states in the areas of agriculture, mining, renewable energy, tourism and transport and others, which investors will find attractive.

Amidst these benefits which the state enjoys for business to thrive, Otu also added that Cross River is enveloped in a tropical humid climate with a forest ecosystem that stabilizes the local pattern.

He informed that the locals within the forest zone are trained on alternative sourcing of fuel rather than wood felling for firewood and are supported to source for alternative means of animal protein, hence, the protection of endangered animal species.

The governor maintained that despite the fact that Cross River has the largest forest reserve in the country, his administration intends to consolidate on the status by increasing the existing forest reserves by 50 percent in the next few years.

"Tree planting is ongoing at geometrical progression. We have a nursery of about 3.5million trees that we are nurturing which very soon will be taken to the forest plantations so as to ensure forest regeneration and check environmental degradation.

"The state government has also earmarked about 1,200 hectares of arable lands for further expansion of estates, food crop production so as to generate food security.

"Cash crops like cocoa, palm produce are the mainstay of the state economy, so in order to secure the local buy-in especially in cocoa production, the state has introduced the small holders scheme whereby the cocoa estates are segmented and given on lease to the locals who plough the estates allocated," Otu informed.

The governor further called on investors to plough in their resources in the upgrading, running and maintenance of the drill ranch, forest canopy walkway and Obudu Ranch Resort through the public, private partnership arrangement.

Otu also invited investors to explore in the mining downstream including the manufacturing of solar panels, electric vehicles products and energy power plants, warning however that, great attention be given to environmental, social and corporate governance.

Others are the rehabilitation and putting to use the Tinapa Studio, Casino and Water Parks, funding and management of the Carnival Calabar and Festival, as well as the establishment and running of more or already existing agro-allied industries in the state, to curtail post-harvest waste.

In his keynote address, the Chief Executive Officer, Access Holdings, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, represented by Mr. Victor Eteku, urged the state government to foster the culture of collaboration and partnership, encourage medical tourism and the development of an educational institution to compete with the 20 best in the world.

Earlier, Special Adviser, International Cooperation and Investment, Victor Edet, said the event focuses on genuine existing opportunities and developing economy relations, while addressing the ordeals that will impact on economic growth.

Edet reasoned that the summit will also "help broaden horizon, broker new cooperation, focus on high returns and long term investments with the aim of unlocking valuable dividends that will address the fundamental challenges confronting development and discuss investment trends and strategies that can be exploited to maximize the potential of every business, local government and agencies of government."

Emmanuel Ogbeche
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor
Cross River State