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Edo State: Economic Opportunities Beyond Covid19

Edo State Governor, Mr  Godwin Obaseki, has said that Edo State government has introduced a Health Insurance scheme for people of Edo State as well as laid emphasis on training of Health Care workers in the state.

Speaking at a webinar, tagged, Edo Covid-19, organised by Edo State Covid-19 Relief Committee in collaboration with Trade & Investment Consultants Ltd (TICL) UK, and Edo State Investment Promotion Office (ESIPO), Governor Obaseki said the training is to aid the state government target the screening of a minimum of five hundred thousand people per day, with a governance strategy focused on communication and with lessons learnt from the Lassa Fever and Ebola pandemic episode.

Governor Obaseki said, down the line, success on what has been achieved will be measured within a framework of governance strategy, focused on Logistics Incident Management, Facilities Management, Security and Communications.

Speaking on the same platform, the Director General, Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ikweazu, said that the NCDC has had a good working relationship with the Irrua Hospital and the Edo State Government. He advised that Covid19 problems cannot be solved in a hurry, while commending the Edo State government, he asked that all State Governments in Nigeria look closely into building  better health infrastructure for the future with a focus on training and re-training post COVID-19. He pointed out that there are three testing centres in Edo State making it, the first outside Lagos State to have more than one centre in the country.

Dr. Iyabo Masha, a Global Economist with the IMF and a Member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) requested Edo State Government to address the immediate issue of Public Health, by developing a comprehensive public health strategy while also working on a revised 2020 budget, focusing on, immediate, medium and long term support for businesses and people of Edo State. In the long term there has to be a strategy for developing the SME productive economy.

Looking at the Investment opportunities that COVID-19 has enabled in the state, the Commissioner for Wealth Creation, Co-operatives and Employment, Hon. Felix Akhabue, said there are opportunities for Investors in Agro- Processing, Oil and Gas and Industrial Parks. He also said that the State Government is focused on training and access to funds as well as encouraging micro credit schemes, which attracts single interest rates.

Ms Nisan Abdulkader, Vice President, Africa, at WAVTEQ, UK, advised that sustainability does not happen overnight and implored government to develop capacity with the private sector, focusing more on digital marketing which is more cost effective and has a wider reach.

Advising that the State Government and Investors should focus on development of sweet corn for which Edo State is the only producing state in Nigeria, Mrs Victoria Madedor, Head of Agri-Business in the Bank of Industry, also highlighted opportunities in pineapple production in Ovia South West. She also advised that stakeholders in the Industry should endeavour to avoid post -harvest wastage.

This was further reiterated by Professor Obas John Ebohon, Director of Internationalisation & Professor of Sustainability & Environmental Law, who advised that for sustainable growth, Edo State Government should build its strength on Agriculture and Industry with a strategic sustainable growth concept focused on outward looking and an import substitution approach.

Turning to the Health session, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia, said social distancing rules had been put in place, wearing of masks is now a requirement for everyone and creating awareness has been given top priority by the State Government

Considering best practices in Public Health globally, Dr Loretta Oduware Ogboro-Okor advised that Edo State could look to developing the herd immunity approach as research showed that total containment will be difficult to achieve instead there should be a balance between health and economics. One of the ways in which the Edo State Government will get it right is to focus on upgrading of Community Hospitals as well as the provision of running water and toilet facilities to markets, schools and other public places.

Participants also had the opportunity of listening to views on ground with a live survey from Mr Joseph Aguele, the presenter of the popular TV programme, VBOSUNU.
In his closing remarks, Governor Obaseki said, his government sees COVID-19 as an opportunity to plan, attract investments and focus on priorities his administration has listed out in order to add value to the lives of Edo Citizens, whilst reiterating that Edo State is open for business, with key priorities in Education, Healthcare and Agribusiness.

 A Vote of thanks was given by Mrs Elizabeth Uwaifo.

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