Anambra @ 30: Chatting new economic paradigm
BEFORE the creation of the present day Anambra State on August 27, 1991, the main economic life wire of the state was the Onitsha Main Market, reputed largest market in West Africa and Nkwo Nnewi Spare Parts Market, West Africa’s spare parts automotive hub. The two markets enjoy patronage in Nigeria and across sub-Saharan Africa.
There was also an undeveloped farm settlement at Igbariam that later evolved into College of Agriculture, and metamorphosed into a campus of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University. There wasn’t much established economic activity beside ndi Anambra who were successful in businesses and several parts of the economy. That painted the picture of economic activities in Anambra, 30 years ago.
But, consciously the state has evolved into a vibrant economy. In the last 7 years when Nigeria recorded three economic recessions, Anambra’s economy remains the most robust in the South East, besides among the top leading economies in Nigeria. Anambra excels as the state with the lowest poverty headcount rate in the South East, according to information released by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in May 2020.
Data from the NBS as at the second quarter of 2020 revealed that Anambra State is the state with the least unemployment in the country with 13.1 per cent unemployment rate. The national average for the unemployment rate is 27.1 per cent.
It was such healthy for the Anambra’s economy that in 2016 when economic recession hit Nigeria the state remained stable and even grew by 1 per cent according to the NBS, when other states in the entire Nigeria had an average of -1.9 per cent inflation rate. When Nigeria slipped into economic recession during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anambra wasn’t affected. The country is in the pangs of an ongoing economic recession.
Anambra’s vibrant commerce and encouragement of markets based activities remain a huge factor that fueled new economic paradigm. The policy thrust catapulted the state coordinated economic effort when it began injecting life into the markets in 2007, besides making Anambra traders benefit from Anambra Integrated Development Strategy, (ANIDS). The ANIDS was a multi-sectoral model predicated on the internationally-acclaimed Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations to fast track development in all sectors of the state economy simultaneously in the state.
The strategy ensured market forces promote economic solvency besides guaranteeing market activities were not hindered by politics has made Anambra economically vibrant. The state is still strategising ways to making the markets more innovative in economic advancement.
Gov. Obiano embarked on creating economic incentives and conveniences in the markets to accentuate development. The Governor went into the markets and had projects like conveniences, building structures, water supply and electricity. A novel concept was making the people who run the markets part of the people who contribute to the economic affairs of the state. More like if you are part of the people who run the affairs of the market, you are almost at the level of a community leader.
While many states in Nigeria groaned under the weight of recession in 2016, Anambra State initiated an Economic Stimulus Package to impact the socio-economic landscape of the state. During this time Gov. Willie Obiano not only met financial obligations regularly but embarked on developmental projects.
The initiative to drive development from the rural communities led to the N20 million Choose-Your-Project Initiative that gives each community in Anambra State the liberty to choose a development project that it considers dearest to it that the state government would execute with the money.
The economic stimulus became an instant success in improving infrastructural development at the grassroots. The multiplier effect of improving infrastructural development made it more potent for money to circulate fast within the communities and cushioned the effects of the recession, while spurring economic activities. Forbes magazine recognized Choose-Your-Project Initiative it as the blueprint for rural development in Africa.
A big magic wand is emphasis on roads in strengthening the infrastructural base of the State. Roads that lead into markets and communities. Anambra has the most extensive road network in Nigeria as it stands today. The emphasis on building interlinking roads, open up opportunities for businesses and have an opportunity to sell their goods.
Anambra is landlocked. The smallest state in the country behind Lagos. Lagos is already reclaiming land from the Atlantic Ocean which could leave Anambra State as the smallest in landmass. Anambra towers landmass in economic activities that makes it the economic hub of the Southeast besides its rich dense population that makes it the most populated state in the southeast. Anambra State is using its population density to evolve its economic activities and not slipping.
Agriculture is fast changing the economic landscape of the state. In line with the huge farming activities the state government is emphasising on agricultural skills training and knowledge for youth. The concept of Aka aja na ebuta onu nmanu nmanu and the concept of Ugbo azu uno always keep food in home and make people productive. The state government preaches productivity at all levels and sectors attracts rewards.
Gov Obiano reiterated this stated last week in his remark while swearing-in 11 new permanent secretaries of the state civil service at Executive Council (EXCO) Chambers of Government House, Awka, he urged them to prioritise productivity and workers welfare. Welfare is about paying those that are productive.
Anambra’s investment in the agricultural sector plays out in the huge by investors in the sector boosting food production, an indicator of economic gains, while engaging more people in the employment role.
A laudable input to the state economic growth is the think home philosophy that started with the administration of former Governor Chukwuemeka Ezeife, when the state went by the slogan ‘Home for All.’ The initiative accelerated when Gov. Willie Obiano re-echoed the call and re-christened it Aku Luo Uno, Governor Obiano urged Ndi Anambra living outside the state to invest part of their wealth at home.
Gov. Obiano gave more teeth to Aku Lue Uno with the creation of Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) and other relevant agencies and equipping existing ones as a strategic and key component of the State’s economic development.
One major idea behind ANSIPPA was to make a model out of countries like Singapore, Taiwan, Israel, among others, who with little landmass and virtually no mineral resources transformed to global economic force.
The birth of ANSIPPA five years ago, besides wealthy ndi Anambra yieldeding the call to invest in the state, has attracted foreign investors with billions of dollars’ worth of investment in the state. Anambra’s Aku Lue Uno’ success story is now a much desired template for other eastern states to emulate.
The creation of the Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA) to spur the entrepreneurial spirit of ndi Anambra was another big economic stimulant to the state economy. ASBA true to its mission to establish a structured and efficient hub for the micro, small and medium enterprises sector that enhances sustainable economic development in the State has grown the state economy by supporting business and small industries in the state.
The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was in Anambra on Tuesday to commission the One – Stop Shop and Shared Multi – Function and Digital Industrial Machines Facility in Ogbunike. Governor Obiano described the facility as Nigeria’s most modern SME complex, stressing that Anambra has never being an average state under his watch, as it has capacity to produce shoes comparable to the ones made in Europe.
The machines have the capacity to produce 1500 shoes per hour. The Anambra cargo airport is less than 1 km from the facility to offer services, besides ASBA as an agency has fulfilled the reasons of setting it up, by actively fertilising entrepreneurial spirit in parts of the state, just as he expressed optimism that government agencies will patronise the facility,” he said.