Rivers State Government has said it is building an alternative economy that will compete with the oil and gas sector.
The state Commissioner for Health and Chairman of the Integrated Medical Industries, Dr. Sampson Parker, said this at the first test-run of the IMI power plant in Vienna, Austria.
Parker said in a statement said by his Personal Assistant, Mr. Owupele Benebo, on Sunday, that though oil had been good to the people of the state, the state Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, believed that the best way to sustainable development was through the diversification of the economy.
He added that such a belief had prompted the current administration to invest in agriculture, education, health, manufacturing and energy.
Parker said the state government was interested in developing an economy that was independent of oil.
He said, “Oil has been good to Nigeria and the Rivers people but Governor Chibuike Amaechi believes that the best way to sustain the development of Rivers State is to develop an economy that is independent of oil.
“That is why we, the Rivers State government, has invested heavily on manufacturing, farming, education, health and energy. We are already seeing results as youth unemployment is reducing.”
Parker stated that the captive power plant with 624,612 series would provide 14 megawatts of electricity to the IMI and manufacturing plants located in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
He said, “The GE 624 engine, which has been described as top of the range, will be inaugurated in Africa for the first time when it is installed at the IMI factory in Port Harcourt early next year. The GE 624 is the world first 24-cylinder engine making this double first.
“The Integrated Medical Industries is a company owned by the Rivers State and the Federal Government, although it is wholly financed by the Rivers State Government.
“The company has embarked on a $27m expansion. While it currently produces about 160 million syringes a year. This figure will rise to 1.3 billion syringes, 1 billion hypodermic needles, 105 million IV giving sets, 90 million IV solutions per annum on completion of expansion in 2014.”
After watching the test-run of the IMI 624 engines, the commissioner expressed confidence that the expansion programme of the factory was on the right course.
“We cannot wait to receive and put these engines to use in our factory. Everything is coming together and we are confident that the expansion programme of the factory is on the right course,” he added.
The IMI directors, led by Parker (Chairman), Wogu Boms and Amenya Wokoma, were taken on tour of the Jenbacher manufacturing plant and shown other power plants at early stages of production in Austria.
In his welcome address to the Rivers delegation, the head of Jenbacher, Mr. Thomas Acher, said, “Although our six series equipment have been in the market for over six years, this is the first time we are shipping the 624 gas engine to Africa.” [Punch]