BY Habeeb Adamu.
West Africa’s first and Africa’s fifth fibre optic cable manufacturing factory has been inaugurated in Ogun State, in Nigeria’s South-West region.
The factory, built by Coleman Technical Industries Limited in collaboration with an American firm, Fibre Business, EMEA, is expected to boost innovation and development of Nigeria’s digital economy infrastructure.
George Onafowokan, managing director and chief executive officer, Coleman Technical Industries Limited, said the project was a response to the Federal Government’s call for rapid development of digitalisation penetration in Nigeria and the drive for local content development.
“I must admit that it has not been an easy task to maneuver the processes of approval through our board of directors and our financial institutions led by Bank of Industry, which played a major role from conceptualisation of this project to its commissioning being witnessed today,” he said.
Onafowokan said the company is on an ambitious drive to become the biggest fibre optic cable factory in Africa by September 2023.
“This is neither the first nor the last; we will be breaking ground three times the size of this in Ogun State in the next three weeks, which will take the project size. That will build capacity for this country; it will build capacity for West Africa, Central Africa and 50 percent of the completely African continent,” he said. “It will make Coleman the biggest fibre optic cable factory in the African continent.”
Niyi Adebayo, minister for trade and investment, who was represented at the event, said Coleman Technical Industries Limited’s expansion from electricity wires and cables to the production of fibre optic cables used by telecommunication companies and other industries, including defence and medicals for various applications in Nigeria and other West African sub-region, is a confirmation of the confidence in the industrialisation drive of the federal government.
Dapo Abiodun, Ogun State governor, expressed delight that the pioneer factory would equally boost the advancement in teaching and learning processes in academic institutions across the state.
“The manufacture of fibre optic cables locally will aid the deployment of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the different sectors of the economy. It will boost tech innovation, advancement in teaching and learning processes in our academic institutions, improve medical care, improve ease and access to data information and enhance internet connection,” Abiodun said.
“This will no doubt be a boost to our administration’s innovation of digital economy infrastructure,” he said.
Abiodun said the efforts of his administration to maximize the advantages of ICT and digital economy have been recognized as they have earned him several awards, including by the Federal Ministry of Communication.
He noted that the commissioning of the factory would go a long way at conserving the already scarce foreign exchange, promoting tech transfer, generating employment and alleviating poverty.
“I urge all private industries in Ogun State to be mindful of their responsibility to Corporate Social Values. The host communities on the other hand should continue to display a high level of cooperation and responsibility. By so doing, all the benefits associated with the presence of industries will be realized,” Abiodun said.
“In this regard, industries are expected to complement the existing infrastructure facilities that have been provided by the state government through prompt payment of their taxes,” he said.
In her remarks, Mary Beth Leonard, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, represented by Commercial Attache David Russell, noted that the impact of the factory would be seen everywhere and that more jobs would be created for the people of the state.