President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, promised Nigerians improved standard of living by 2013 in his bid to deliver democracy dividends.
Jonathan made the promise at the inauguration of the SAB-Millers Brewery, in Onitsha, Anambra State, according to News Agency of Nigeria.
He noted that in spite of the challenges facing the country, the private sector was still making massive progress, noting that the Federal Government would continue to support the private sector Operators and provide infrastructure to assist them.
“I want to commend this company for what it has done; I also want to commend others for what they are doing considering that fact that within this period as a nation, we know we have our challenges.
“But this administration is totally committed to changing things; we have challenges in terms of road infrastructure, power; we have that also in security and others.
“I know all these are major handicaps to the development of industry in the nation; but even under these situations the companies are trying and doing well.
“We promise you that we would change things and make sure that the private sector blossoms in this country because that is the only way we can create jobs.
“Our transformation agenda is going on, in a partnership between government and the private sector; that’s’ why even in our economic management team we have people from the Federal Government; state governors are there, Governors Peter Obi and Murtala Nyako and of course key captains of industry from the private sector.”
Jonathan also noted that Nigeria’s population of 160 million people, 70 per cent of which was made up of the youth, made it an attractive investment destination for investors.
He praised Governor Obi for deploying his private sector experience to attract investment to the state.
“I promise SABMiller breweries investors that they would not regret their investment in the country as young people under the age of 35 constitute 70 percent of the country’s population and we are not under any restrictions to what they could eat or consume.”
Governor Obi, in his address promised that the people of the state would support and stand with Jonathan having overwhelmingly voted for him in the 2011 Presidential elections.
The governor said with the level of private sector investments springing up, the state was fast becoming the home of Africa’s greatest entrepreneurs.
Mr Mark Bowman, Managing Director of SAB-Miller Africa, expressed gratitude to the Anambra and Federal governments for creating the enabling environment for the brewery to thrive in the country.
“We are grateful for the support and infrastructure you have assisted us with and we promise that the company would deliver on its promises of job creation.”
It will be recalled that SAB-Miller Breweries had invested $100 million (N15 billion) on building a green-field brewery in Onitsha in 2011.
The brewery is the highest direct investment by any group or company in the history of the South-East geo-political zone.
The factory, which is expected to produce beer and malt for a start, has 12.5 per cent share owned by indigenous entrepreneurs and 10 per cent share owned by Anambra Government.
The brewery is expected to directly employ about 750 youths and indirectly engage 4,500 people, especially through its subsidiary distribution company Interfact Nigeria Ltd.
The brewery would be taking advantage of the largest market in West Africa – Onitsha Main Market – as well as 1.5 million residents excluding thousands of visiting traders daily.
Meanwhile, Anambra State Government had announced that it would provide tax cuts and infrastructure to the brewery and other industries within the Onitsha industrial harbour.