The governments of the United Kingdom (UK) and Enugu State will partner for the mutual economic benefits of the UK and the state, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr. Richard Montgomery, and the Enugu State Governor, Barr Peter Mbah, have stated.
This was even as Mbah has sought the technical assistance of the UK government as well as the restoration of UK visa facilitation center to Enugu to boost trade, business, and other relationships between the UK and Enugu State.
Both men made this known during a visit by the UK High Commissioner to Governor Mbah at the Government House, Enugu, on Tuesday.
Speaking during the visit, Dr. Montgomery, who expressed his support for the investment and economic growth drive of the new administration in the state, recalled that the UK had partnered with Enugu State for over 20 years on issues like public health sector reforms, education, power sector reforms, among others.
“So, we are interested in continuing that partnership. I have been reading the press and the ways you have been seeking to already put your stamp on reforms and your ambitions for the state.
“I am here to listen, learn, and understand more about your priority and that of your new government to explore areas of further collaboration.
“I understand that very important reforms are currently being made in Nigeria, trying to put the economy back on track and on a higher growth path.
“We really hope that the South East and Enugu State will see more opportunities coming from the economy in the coming years.
“There might be some short-term pressures and volatility to manage, but we can see the prospects for a higher growth path for Nigeria.
“The UK is very interested in exploring partnerships on trade and investment and I have come to Enugu to understand your agenda and to explore those areas of potential partnership going forward”, he stated.
Speaking, Governor Mbah, who went down the memory lane on what he described as Enugu’s consequential roles and place in the history of Nigeria, said the state was eager to take back its preeminent place.
“We have also shared an ambitious vision to the people of Enugu State on where we could get to in terms of our economy. One of the things we said to them is our ambition to transform Enugu to become a premier destination for investment, business, living and tourism. And we also have plans to eradicate poverty in the state, which is currently higher than the national average.
“This is why your visit to us today is quite remarkable because we believe it is not a journey we can go alone. We need partnerships. We need collaborations in order to achieve that. Interestingly, we have a history of partnership with the UK, just as you have alluded to”.
On the need to restore the British Council and the UK visa facilitation centre to Enugu, Mbah emphasised: “I have told you some of the historic roles Enugu had played in the history of the South and there could be no better place to site a visa facilitation centre than Enugu. So, we are looking forward to that to boost trade, investment, and cooperation between the UK and our state”.
Mbah also explained that the state would host the Investment and Economic Growth Stakeholder Roundtable scheduled for September to herald the Enugu State Diaspora and Investment Forum planned for April 2024 to showcase the investment potentials of the state and therefore solicited support towards developing those potentials.
The governor equally sought the technical assistance of the UK government in the areas of power to develop and build the Enugu electricity market and the consequent regulatory commission, as power had been devolved to the Concurrent List in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).
He further solicited the support of the UK government in developing Enugu State as a special agro-allied processing zone in line with the administration’s manifesto and the state’s listing by the FG for the purpose
“We are also interested in the private-sector-led green economic transformation where we obviously believe that we can participate in renewable energy so that most of our catchment power requirements can actually be attended to. So, the emphasis is on technical assistance and support”, Mbah stressed.
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