By Peter Egwuatu
Despite concentration of most of the banks to debt recovery occasioned by the ongoing banking reforms by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Fidelity Bank Plc has taken the bull by the horns to serve as catalysts to the nation’s industrial growth.
The Bank which was part of other banks that recently returned to profitability after losses made as a result of the full loan provisioning mandated by the apex bank has continued to lend to entrepreneurs and enterprises that have shown striking clarity of vision and enough will power to contribute meaningfully to Nigeria’s expanding industrial base.
The financing of a multi dollar can manufacturing company, (GZ Industries) by Fidelity Bank at this stage of banking reforms where other banks are busy pursuing their debtors shows that it is committed to the industrial growth of the economy.
No wander President Good luck Jonathan while commissioning the GZ Industries last week at Agbara, Ogun State commended the bank for its single handedly financing the project in which he informed u valued at about US $80 billion.
The President Goodluck charged banks to support government effort towards industrial development of the economy and pledged that the federal government will create enabling environment for business to strive
He restated his administration’s commitment to Nigeria’s industrial development through active collaboration with the organized private sector, stressing that the government was ready to assist genuine entrepreneurs wishing to contribute to the nation’s economic growth through job creation and industrial projects.
Against this background the president hinted that he had mandated the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry to intensify consultation with the organized private sector to identify those genuinely committed to the nation’s economic development
He said he was delighted that the import substitution benefit of GZ Industries will enhance his administration’s effort to conserve foreign exchange and in the process improve the nation’s balance of payment position with its trading partners.
Jonathan described the multimillion dollar factory as a demonstration of foreign investors’ confidence on the Nigerian economy which he said was a product of political stability.In his opening remarks, Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Reginald Ihejiahi said the commissioning of the project was significant in the history of the nation which turns 50 in the next few months.
He explained that the scheme also falls within the ambit of the Jonathan administration’s three point agenda which include job creation, power sector reform and development of the productive base of the economy.
Ihejiahi said the GZI plant was one of the most audacious projects ever financed by his bank in recent times both in terms of scope, capital outlay and benefit to the domestic economy.
He said his Fidelity Bank was delighted to fund the project because of its multifaceted benefit to the country.With an estimated installed capacity to produce about 600million cans per annum and a daily 1.5 to 2miilion cans a day GZI is the largest and only aluminum can plant on the African continent and compares only to CONPAC in Poland Ben in France and Rexam in Brazil.
Ihejiahi said that the company that currently employs about 150 workers including Nigerians and will contribute to the growth of the nation’s GDP
He further disclosed that the multiplier effect of the project include to provide employment of an estimated 1500 employees.
The import of the role that GZI has come to play in the economy is even appreciated when we remember that the cans that are produced by this plant were once imported by various fast moving consumer goods manufacturers in the country.
So what we now have is outright import substitution, which will earn the country substantive foreign exchange earnings.
Vanguard gathered that the GZI plants took 18 months to be completed. It is not entirely strange that Fidelity Bank from its modest background as an entrepreneurial bank, has recoded a lifting medium size companies to levels where they can comfortably compete with the best.
Other notably projects financed by the Fidelity Bank include the $25m Akute Power Plant, a 12.5 mega watts independent plant; $25million Dorman Long Galvanising Plant at Oko-Oba, Agege, Lagos; Polo Park Shopping Mall in Enugu Kwara Mall in Ilorin; Loan syndication for MTN Group and Fidelity Agri-Nigerian Project.
Analysis of the various projects show that N5.2 billion was committed on Polo Park Shopping Mall in Enugu, N3 billion for Kwara Mall, and N326 billion for the loan syndication.
It should be noted that Akute Plant was financed by Fidelity Bank in partnership with the Lagos State government to eas power supply problems in the State. A similar project of 7 mega watts independent power plant known as the Island Power Limited, also wholly financed by the Bank is nearing completion as gathered.