President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday inaugurated the N5.6 billion Nestle Waters factory in Abaji, FCT, with a promise to make Nigeria an investment destination in Africa.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the President said that the construction of the factory demonstrated the robustness of the nation’s economy and expressed the hope that the event would further stimulate growth.
He thanked the Nestle Foods Company for pioneering the industrialisation of the rural communities in the country noting that the occasion reflected the importance of Nigeria as an investment destination.
The president said that such effort also was a contribution to the determination of the federal government to diversify the economy and promised that the administration would provide the enabling environment for private sector enterprises to thrive.
“The Federal Government will continue to encourage the private sector by providing market stability, providing the necessary infrastructure and micro economic policies for business,” he said.
Buhari noted that the world would be a better place if every organisation focused on what it could do for its host communities.
“We are glad this supports the government`s policy on employment generation and wealth creation.”
According to him the administration had identified and put in place six critical areas in the 2016 budget to drive economic growth.
Accordingly, he said that the federal government would partner the private sector in business growth adding that the administration was proud of the resilience and effort of the private sector to the keep the economy on the right path.
The Minister of the FCT, Alhaji Mohammed Bello, represented by Mr Salisu Abdulsalam, said that he was happy that the dream of making Abuja an industrial hub was becoming a reality.
He said the facility would provide means of livelihood to the residents of the FCT adding that the territory would remain an investment choice.
The minister appealed to other investors to take advantage of easy access to land, tax holidays and peaceful environment to invest in the territory.
In a welcome address, the Managing Director of Nestle Nigeria, Mr Dharnesh Gordhon, said that the factory was the company’s third in Nigeria, first major investment in the North, and the most modern water processing factory in Central and West Africa.
“It underpins our strong belief in the potential of the local market and the resilience of Nigerian economy in spite of the current difficult and volatile business environment,” he said.
According to him the company will continue to believe in the country as well as in the business opportunities as Nigeria remains Africa’s investment destination of choice.
The Chairman of the Company’s Board of Directors, Mr David Ifezulike, thanked the Bank of Industry for providing the long term financial support to establish the factory as well as supporting the expansion of the company’s cereal and culinary plants in its Agbara, Ogun, factory.
While noting that Nestle factories drove rural development, the chairman said the company was proud to spread the climate of progress to Abaji and leave another notable landmark on FCT industrial landscape.
“The developmental effects of our factories over time translate into new businesses, investments and infrastructure and make their once-rural locations increasingly urban or industrialised in nature.
“I am confident that our manufacturing operations here in the FCT will not only have a positive long term impact on the economy but also improve the standard of living of people of Abaji and neighbouring communities,’’ he added.
The Execuive Vice President of Nestle S.A., Mr Marco Settembri, said that the organisation was “committed to helping people lead healthier lives as water is surely the best way to fulfill daily hydration needs.
“Our goal is to provide families all around the world an affordable and convenient daily healthy hydration solution.’’
He acknowledged the responsibilities facing the company in the new community and promised to ensure better water utilisation and waste management, ensure sustainability of water supply and raising children’s awareness about healthy hydration and water conservation.
He further promised to create jobs as well as contribute to develop technical competencies locally by establishing a technical training centre for the youth in Abaji.
The Country manager of Nestle, Mr Jason Lambe, observed that the investment of N5.6 billion along with the company’s future investment plans showed its commitment to growing Africa’s largest economy.
The Ambassador of Switzerland to Nigeria, Mr Eric Mayoraz, underscored the importance of the economic and diplomatic relations between his country and Nigeria which facilitated the citing of the project.
He said Switzerland would continue with its capacity building and education programmes in Nigeria and would offer five new scholarships to Nigerians.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nestle had done business in Nigeria for 55 years while the Abaji factory would create 111 new jobs and produce its brand Nestle Pure Life water.