The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has restated his government’s plan to place the state on the top spot of emerging technology markets in Africa.
The governor said this when he received the British Deputy High Commissioner, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, who was on a courtesy visit at the Government House, Benin City.
Obaseki said, through the state’s skills development agency (Edojobs), his administration has been able to establish an army of young entrepreneurs who are ready to tap into opportunities and contribute their quota to the development of the state, using technology.
According to him, “We are building tech hubs and now moving into building technology parks, where we will train our young ones using technology. Most of our young people don’t want to travel, but would like to remain here in Benin. We can source businesses here and create value in our state, and our young people will be excited.
“Our goal is to train between 10,000 and 20,000 software engineers in the next five years, to make us competitive like other countries, as well as position us as an emerging market in the area of technology.”
The governor urged for more collaboration with the United Kingdom in the area of skills acquisition, fight against human trafficking, oil palm cultivation, forestry, forest conservation and regeneration.
He noted: “We just finished the first phase of Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) where we gave out about 50,000 hectares of land to about eight Investors and groups. None of them was from the UK. As we make further investments, we look forward to working with you.
“We would like to work with you in the area of forestry and forest conservation and regeneration. Our goal is to plant a minimum of one million trees a year over the next several years. We would like to collaborate and partner with groups to give them parcels of forest to manage for us, to preserve nature.”
The governor, who commended the British government on the role played in the fight against human trafficking in Edo State, said the collaboration has drastically reduced the scourge and discouraged the youths from embarking on dangerous journeys abroad.
“We are grateful for the assistance given to the state in tackling human trafficking, which has been a burden on us. We have made considerable progress that has led to taming the tide of human trafficking and discouraging our youths from taking dangerous journeys abroad.
“Your cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of offenders of human trafficking is encouraging, especially working with the state’s task force. I also thank the British government for the encouragement given to this administration,” Obaseki stated.
Earlier, the deputy British high commissioner said, “I am happy to be in Edo State. We are here and have been talking to the governor and his team on how to bring economic development into Edo State, as well as supporting British businesses in the state.
“We are also in discussion on various issues and challenges facing the state, like the issue of economic development, unemployment and human trafficking; how to tackle, prevent and support victims of trafficking.
“Also, we are looking at cultural issues and artifacts scattered around the world, and the on-going dialogue to try and address the return and presentations of those artifacts to Benin City,” he noted.