The Akwa Ibom State Government has opened another revenue source following the commissioning of the St Gabriel Coconut Refinery in the state.
The factory described as Africa’s first digital coconut oil refinery and located in Ikot Akpan Okop village in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, is expected to employ no fewer than 3,000 direct and indirect staff.
Gov. Udom Emmanuel stating that it is first in magnitude and level in Africa said it’s part of the efforts of Akwa Ibom in attracting foreign direct investment,”.Emmanuel said the project came through his desire to open more windows for foreign direct investments.
Currently, a barrel of coconut oil goes for $ 1,326 and the dwindling crude oil fortunes moved the state into exploring other economic possibilities within its available resources.
Emmanuel said coconut oil has become a major economic driver in the international market. The Governor who disclosed the plan to commence an immediate training of indigenous hands to man the refinery said the facility has a daily capacity to crack one million coconuts.
He pledged to plant two million more coconut stands before exiting office in 2023 to add to the two million hybrid coconut seedlings on the 11-hectare piece of land when the project that is fully owned by Akwa Ibom Government was flagged off on May 24th, 2017.
Former Governor of Benue State, Sen. Gabriel Suswam, commended Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel for venturing into an area as unique as the coconut oil refinery to boost the state’s economy.
Suswam said: “The resources shared in Abuja are not enough. You came, saw Akwa Ibom in a state of despair and left Akwa Ibom a prosperous state.
“What you have done in Akwa Ibom has not been done in Nigeria. You are launching Akwa Ibom on a global stage,” Suswam said.
The refinery comprises an off factory complex complete with administrative offices, production areas, technical spaces, and industrial fire fighting systems.
“Other facilities within the complex include water treatment plants, effluent treatment plants and residential quarters for technical and managerial staff as well as parking areas for vehicles bringing raw materials.