Abiodun inaugurates sub-Saharan Africa’s first fibre optic factory in Ogun

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Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun on Thursday inaugurated the first fibre optic cable manufacturing factory in West Africa and the fifth in Africa.

Abiodun, who spoke at the inauguration of the Coleman Wire and Cable Fibre Optic Company, said that the factory would further boost his administration’s innovation and development of its digital economy infrastructure.

The factory is located at Arepo in Ogun.

The governor expressed delight that the pioneer factory would equally boost advancement in teaching and learning processes in academic institutions across the state.

“The manufacture of fibre optic cables locally will aid the deployment of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in different sectors of the economy.

“It will boost tech innovation, advancement in teaching and learning processes in our academic institutions, improve medical care, improve ease and access to data information and enhance internet connection.

“This will no doubt be a boost to our administration’s innovation of digital economy infrastructure,” the governor said.

Abiodun said that his administration’s commitment toward building a technologically advanced state had won it awards in the area of ICT and digital economy by the Federal Ministry of Communication, Business Day Newspaper in 2019, Daily Independent Newspaper and Daily Times in 2021.

He said that the awards were in recognition of efforts of his administration to maximise the advantages of ICT and digital economy.

The governor further said that launching of its digital economy project which aimed to lay 5,000 kilometers of fibre optic cables across the state would receive the needed boost with the inauguration of the first fibre optic cable factory in West Africa.

The governor noted that the commissioning of the factory would go a long way in conserving the already scarce foreign exchange, promoting tech transfer, generating employment and alleviating poverty.

He called on other well-meaning individuals and organisations to benefit from the immense opportunity the state had.

Abiodun, urged private industries in the state to be mindful of their responsibility to corporate social values, charging the host communities to display a high level of cooperation and responsibility.

“In this regard, industries are expected to complement the existing infrastructure facilities that have been provided by the state government through prompt payment of their taxes,” he said.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Niyi Adebayo, commended the company for its achievement, saying that the factory was positioned to actively participate in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Adebayo who was represented by the Director, Industrial Development FMITI, Mr Adewale Bakare, said that the expansion of the company to the production of fibre optic cables was a confirmation of confidence in the Federal Government’s industrialisation drive.

He said that the Nigeria’s journey to industrialisation was on course as evidenced by the company’s drive to increase local production capacity, which he noted, was also in line with the ministry’s Backward Integration Programme.

“It is a comprehensive and strategic approach toward industrialisation with a view to promoting value-addition across the chain of the manufacturing process in line with the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan,’’ the minister said.

In her remarks, the United States of America Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, represented by the Commercial Attache, David Russell, noted that the impact of the factory would be seen everywhere, just as more jobs would be created for people of the state.

Earlier in his remark, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Coleman Technical Industries Ltd,, Mr George Onafowokan, said that the company, since its inception had a firm belief in local content.

He said that the vision of the company was based on the premise of believing in Nigeria and growing local capacity.

Onafowokan said that the company would build capacity for the country, West Africa, Central Africa and about 50 percent of the continent,.

He said that the plan was to make the company the biggest fibre optic cable factory in the continent by September 2023.

Pitan who was represented by the Executive Director, Large Enterprises, BOI, Mr Simon Aranonu, said that the investment in the local manufacturing of fibre optic cables would provide over 2,800 direct and indirect jobs

“Before BOI’s intervention, the company’s installed capacity was about 12,000 metric tonnes per annum which provided about 500 jobs.

“With this expansion, the production capacity will increase to about 162,000 metric tonnes per annum capable of providing 2,800 direct and indirect jobs.

“This project is also in line with the import substitution and economic diversification drive of the Federal Government resulting in foreign exchange savings,” he said.

The Managing Director, Bank of Industry (BOI), Mr Olukayode Pitan, said that the project had the potential to contribute not just to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector but to engineering, oil and gas.

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Pitan further said that the factory was consistent with Federal Government’s National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 which aimed to achieve 70 per cent broadband penetration and 90 per cent reach by 2025.

“According to the world bank, an increase of 10 per cent in broadband penetration in any country can improve the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by at least 4.6 per cent.

“For Nigeria this is necessary for improved economic activities as we harness the potential of the growing digital economy for economic diversification.

“We are proud of our involvement in this project and we will continue to support future ventures of the company,” he said.

The Director, Fibre Business, EMEA, Corning Inc., Mr Steve Candler, said that the opening of the factory was timely following the increasing demand for high bandwidth services communication network made available by fibre optic cables.

Candler said that people had become more involved with the internet for several purposes such as entertainment, communication, remote learning, e-commerce and streaming of high quality video content among others.

“In order to manage, process, share and store all these data, users are making increasing use of the cloud to keep pace with the rang of change.

“All these developments are reliant on the presence of a resilient high capacity communications network that requires lots of fibre optic cables.

“So the opening of this factory couldn’t have come at a better time and Corning Inc. is delighted to have been chosen as the supplier of optical fibre,” he said.

 

(NAN)