For­eign fund un­der­way for N/delta re­gion’s de­vel­op­ment

Business Day (Nigeria) - - NEWS - IG­NATIUS CHUKWU

Ade­vel­op­ment fund to be known as Niger Delta Fund is said to be on the way. In­side sources said the for­eign-based ini­tia­tors have con­sid­ered var­i­ous ar­eas of in­vest­ment, in­clud­ing wa­ter-based eco­nomic ven­tures such as fish-trawl­ing and wa­ter trans­porta­tion that will touch the nooks and cran­nies of the oil re­gion.

Busi­ness­day gath­ered in Port Har­court at the week­end that the in­vest­ment spread would also in­clude man­u­fac­tur­ing, with the ob­jec­tive of turn­ing the Niger Delta from con­sumer re­gion to pro­ducer re­gion. Agri­cul­ture and cash crops may also be given se­ri­ous at­ten­tion from the fund.

The scheme is said to be a reflection of and re­ac­tion to the failed dreams from pre­vi­ous de­vel­op­ment agen­cies to move the oil re­gion to the next eco­nomic level, such as the de­funct Oil Min­eral Pro­duc­ing Ar­eas De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion (OMPADEC), the Niger Delta De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion (NDDC) and the rested BRACED Com­mis­sion.

The fund would also seek to en­cour­age in­vestors to cre­ate an avi­a­tion hub by link­ing all the South-south cities by air which would cre­ate an­other in­vest­ment op­por­tu­nity in the Niger Delta.

De­tails of the up­com­ing fund such as the size and ap­pli­ca­tion pro­cesses have not yet been re­vealed. A source linked to the project told Busi­ness­day that the brains be­hind the scheme wish to bring in a lot of funds from var­i­ous parts of the world but this time not re­lated to the govern­ment.

The di­rec­tor- gen­eral of Port Har­court Cham­ber of Com­merce, In­dus­try, Mines and Agri­cul­ture, a sea­soned tech­no­crat, Eras­mus Chukunda, who seems deeply con­nected with the scheme, con­firmed the de­vel­op­ment in an exclusive in­ter­view with Busi­ness­day.

The DG de­scribed the move as an­other in­vest­ment op­por­tu­nity in Rivers State and the Niger Delta. He said so far, the de­vel­op­ment pat­tern had only en­cour­aged roads and air modes. “There is now a plan to build a sort of Niger Delta avi­a­tion hub that would have do­mes­tic flights to all the Niger Delta states. The plan is to have a Niger Delta Fund which would fa­cil­i­tate that re­gional avi­a­tion hub to in­crease flights.

“Wa­ter­ways is one of the trans­porta­tion modes that has been ne­glected in the re­gion and in Nige­ria. Re­mem­ber that one of the ma­jor points for bound­ary de­mar­ca­tion in the Niger Delta is wa­ter­ways. If we can con­nect all our towns and vil­lages in the re­gion with a wa­ter trans­porta­tion sys­tem, that’s a huge in­vest­ment.”

It was gath­ered that a com­pany has al­ready done a pro­posal on ac­quir­ing fleet of boats of dif­fer­ent kinds to es­tab­lish a wa­ter trans­porta­tion sys­tem in Rivers State.

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