South African investors have indicated interest to set up an ethanol refinery in Edo State and turn the state into the China of Africa. Executive Chairman of Industrial Development Holding, South Africa, Mr. Mxolesi Mbetse made the disclosure when he paid Governor Adams Oshiomhole a courtesy visit at the Government House, yesterday.
He said: “What we want to do in Edo State is that in the next five to ten years we want to completely eliminate the importation of palm oil. We want to ensure that Nigeria becomes the next exporter of not only palm oil, sugar but also ethanol. I was in Brazil and was amazed at the way they used technology to produce ethanol where today Brazil produces billions of ethanol”.
Mr. Mbetse told the Governor that from his reliable findings, Edo State was well-endowed with abundant Agriculture and Natural Resources that could sustain industrialization and industrial growth, not only in the state and the geo-political zone but the entire country.
According to him, the state’s raw material potentialities and the infrastructure already put in place by the government attracted his business conglomerate to come and cite a refinery that would produce and process ethanol using palm-oil and sugar-cane. He said 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.
Mbetse said further: “When you look at the issue of agriculture and how important it is to Nigeria and the strategic nature of Edo State, it becomes very necessary that all hands must be put on deck to improve the lives of the people. What we need to do is to, within a foreseeable future, use renewable energy and ethanol is the most important component of this renewable energy.
“There is no other place to do that than Edo State when you look at the infrastructure that the government has done. The strategic importance of Edo gives me hope that when I look at Edo it is the right place to put up this investment in terms of where you can produce what to be consumed.
“In terms of where to produce enough sugar, palm oil to be consumed locally, Nigeria is a place to be. You don’t have to go to India or China. Nigeria is our China. It is not just to produce sugar and export it to China. We have to produce and refine”, he said.
He explained that he has not come to seek financial assistance rather his company has come to solicit the Edo State Government’s support for their investment in the state.
Responding, Governor Oshiomhole said the state government was clear on its plan to improve the GDP of people in the state, saying putting infrastructure in place without attracting the right investors would yield very little.
“We are clear that our responsibility is to encourage business that are pro-people that give the people a sense of ownership. Agriculture offers us a unique opportunity to a make a difference”, he added.