Ibom Science Park in the whiff of progress

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Ibom Science Park
Akwa Ibom State Government represented by the Secretary to State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem after signing the MOU with Serge Investment Company

By Edidiong Udobia

There seems to be a strong molecule in the DNA of Governor Udom Emmanuel led administration that clearly stands it out among its contemporaries. As I watched the governor mount the stage during the last Akwa Ibom Carols Festival to reel out some of the achievements of his administration within the last three and a half years, I said to myself, this is a government that has superior performance in her gene.

Progress is’nt spontaneous. It’s not magic. Like Rome, it’s not a day’s job. As at May 29, 2015 when Governor Udom took over, Akwa Ibom could not boast of at least one functional cottage industry masterminded by the state government. A few visionary local government chairmen tried opening ventures like shoe making, food processing and other small-scale manufacturing factories. But without the right motivation and support from the then state government, their visions were dead on arrival.

 

So, what is progress? Progress is Akwa Ibom moving from a time of excess wealth when not even a single moribund industry was revived, to a time of global economic crisis yet both old and new industries are springing up across the state. Take for instance, one of former governor Victor Attah’s signature projects, the Ibom Science Park. Even with a deafening outcry from Akwa Ibom people for the actualization of the science park, the immediate past administration bluntly abandoned the project in its 8 years. Today, less than 4 years, the Udom Emmanuel administration has given the people hope that the Science Park will come alive.

Initially Posted: #Save_Ibom_Science_Park: a Campaign to Save the Future

Earlier this week, the Akwa Ibom State Government exchanged signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Serge Investment Company in the development of Ibom Science and Technology Park, Liberty Free Trade Zone, supply of buses and building of Assessment Plant and Construction of Roads across the State. Like many other right-thinking Akwa Ibom people, this development gave me so much pleasure. Over the years, we had demanded for the completion of this laudable project, and a government has finally hearkened to our demand.

The name “father of modern Akwa Ibom” is very befitting of former governor Victor Attah because he laid a solid foundation for what has today become a prototype of a developing state in an underdeveloped nation. For instance, as at the time Attah conceived the idea of Ibom Science Park, South Africa’s first accredited and leading science and technology park in Africa, Innovation Hub Science Park (IHSP), was just recently established in Pretoria, South Africa in 2001. Today, South Africa has about five world-class science and technology parks. IHSP is a major driver of the South African green economy.

“As one of the pillars for the Gauteng Green Economic Strategy, the Hub’s Climate Innovation Center supports innovative clean technology enterprises which build the domestic industry, increase climate resilience, reduce carbon emissions, connect to international markets and create jobs. The center also help entrepreneurs develop, transfer and deploy advanced climate technologies”, writes D.A. Barber of Moguldom Newsletter. The science park in Akwa Ibom would have been pivotal to the indutrialization of the present state government if the “end of 2007” proposed date of commissioning was a reality. Sadly, the Godswill Akpabio led administration completely abandoned only abandon the project.

Ibom Science Park
Mr. Udom Emmanuel. Akwa Ibom State Governor.

As part of the plans to kick-start the proposed science park, the then state government in March 2006 signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish a joint venture among Akwa Ibom’s science park and two Chinese companies-one a subsidiary of an American company, Technoconcepts, to manufacture and market cellular telephones throughout Africa. That would would have been a major breakthrough in technology for Africa. However, with the new commitment by Governor Udom to continue with the project, Attah’s vision is not only coming alive, but will be bigger to meet the new realities. The development is a big win for our techies and our teeming entrepreneurs.

A sustainable progress is never tsunamic, but a slow and steady process. It does not blow like a destructive storm, but like a calm gentle breeze. The whiff of progress blowing across Akwa Ibom is bringing back Ibom Science Park. Kudos to Governor Udom Emmanuel, and in the spirit of the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival, let the people say Amen to Ibom Science Park.

Edidiong Udobia is a journalist and writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.

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