Abia State Trade Mission to Turkey: Pre-event information by Sam Hart

In furtherance of the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu administration policy of keeping Abians fully informed about government plans and activities, we present to you details of the Abia State Trade Mission to Turkey taking place from the 10th to the 14th of September, 2015.
Upon assumption of office, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu expressed his willingness to do all possible to revamp and broaden the industrial and entrepreneurial potentials of Aba and Abia State in general. Since he assumed office, the Governor has consistently sought ways of expanding the opportunities available to the industrialists and entrepreneurs in Abia State. He dispatched his Special Adviser on Public Private Partnership/Investment Promotion, Mr. Austin Ufomba to hold meetings in Lagos and Abuja with UNIDO, the Bank of Industry, the Central Bank of Nigeria and other development and funding partners to see how best to assist Abia industrialists and entrepreneurs expand the scope of their operation and benefit from available incentives. In furtherance of the aforestated overall goal, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu will be leading a delegation of 40 Industrialists and Entrepreneurs to the 3rd KONEXPO FAIR holding at Istanbul, Turkey from the 10th to the 14th of September, 2015. The KONEXPO FAIR attracts over 10,000 participants from 20 Countries annually who come to Turkey to seek new markets and raw-material sources for their products.
The Fair travel arrangements were coordinated by Elder Emma Ezeala, SSA to the Governor on Investment Facilitation and meetings were held with the Aba Chamber of Commerce, Umuahia Chamber of Commerce, the Leather and Garment Cluster in Aba and other Industrialists to seek their buy-in as the intention is to pair them with manufacturers and wholesalers from around the world. As it stands, the Aba Chamber of Commerce will be represented on the trip by its new President, Emma Nwakpadolo, Director/Secretary, Declan Chidi Obiefule and about 15 other members. The Umuahia Chamber of Commerce is led by their President, Chief Uzodinma Okpara, Secretary, Asonye Mmerenwanne and about 10 other Members. The rest of the delegation comprise Leather & Garment entrepreneurs and other businessmen. Government delegation comprises Elder Emma Ezeala, SSA to the Governor on Investment Facilitation; Rev. Ernest Onyeukwu, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry; Austin Ufomba, Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Private Partnership; Lawrence Odoemelam, SSA to the Governor on Investment Promotion and the Governor’s personal aides.
Initially, the idea was for the businessmen to foot their bills since they are the primary beneficiaries of the networks they will be creating at the Fair but they wanted the Government to pay for them. The Governor declined as Government was deploying its resources to other areas. After series of meetings between the Abia State PPP/IP Office and the various business groups, a compromise was agreed to by the Governor where attendees will pay 50% of the cost of the trip while government will support them with the remaining 50%. Much as the trip will benefit the attendees, Government still stands to gain from a vibrant state economy so it is an investment that will also benefit the state.
To ensure a coordinated trip, the government engaged the services of a Turkish-based Travel & Business Agency that will handle all arrangements from flight to accommodation, feeding, local transport and meetings. It was this arrangement that enabled the government arrive at a lesser total cost per participant for the trip. Arrangements have been made for the Turkish Airline Plane to come to Port-Harcourt International Airport to pick the delegation and return them back to Port-Harcourt to save cost and ensure ease of logistics.
The Governor is already in America and will be joining the delegation in Turkey from America. Already, apart from the EXPO, he is billed to hold meetings with companies that have expressed interest in collaborating with government and businesses in Abia State. The Governor’s presence at the Fair will boost the prospects of the attendees from Abia State and ease negotiations and agreements as the Governor will be present to provide sovereign guarantees to companies desirous of entering into partnerships with their Abia State counterparts. There will also be signing of Bilateral Trade Agreement between Aba Chamber of Commerce and their counterpart in Istanbul, Turkey.
The benefits of this trip cannot be immediately quantifiable until the delegation returns and provide details of agreements entered into but suffice it to say that the impact will be long-lasting and businesses in Abia State will be the better for it. More details will be provided when the delegation returns.
Sam Hart is the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Communication.