Efforts by the Edo State government to industrialise the state are beginning to bear fruits. Recently, Industrial Development Holding, IDH, a group of South African investors, expressed its resolve to turn Edo State into the China of Africa, beginning with the establishment of an ethanol refinery in the state. Mxolesi Mbetse, executive chairman, IDH, told Governor Adams Oshiomhole, during a courtesy visit in Benin, that “what we want to do in Edo State is that in the next five to 10 years, we want to completely eliminate the importation of palm oil. We want to ensure that Nigeria becomes the next exporter of palm oil, sugar and ethanol. I was in Brazil and I was amazed at the way they used technology to produce ethanol.”
Mbetse noted that Edo State was well endowed with abundant agriculture and natural resources that could sustain industrialisation and industrial growth, not only in the state and the geo-political zone but in the entire country. He explained that the state’s raw material potentialities and the infrastructure already put in place by the government was what attracted his business conglomerate to come and site a refinery that would produce and process ethanol using palm oil and sugar cane, adding that the large availability of raw materials, coupled with the state’s ready manpower would further enhance the industrial base of the state and its output.
On the choice of Nigeria for their investment, the IDH boss said: “Nigeria is our China. It is not just to produce sugar and export it to China. We have to produce and refine.” An elated Oshiomhole said the state government was committed to encouraging businesses that give the people a sense of ownership and that agriculture would be used to better the lot of the people.