Nigeria has experienced poor infrastructure development over the years, which has hampered its ability to grow economically. There have been numerous discussions about the development of infrastructure and numerous presentations of the plans for large-scale projects by successive governments, but little to no actual action has been taken.
For this reason, state governments take on the responsibility of improving infrastructure in their domains rather than relying on the Federal Government. While some states may have been successful in coming up with and putting into action their ideas, others haven’t had as much luck.
Infrastructure is the fundamental, necessary services and facilities that must be established for development. Where none exists, economic development would be challenging to achieve. Infrastructure facilitates and accelerates economic development. Without a thriving infrastructure sector, economic development or growth is practically impossible. In view of this, one of the most important infrastructure built in the Southeastern part of Nigeria – the International Conference Centre, Awka – would be analysed.
Infrastructure is key to economic development, particularly as it relates to the construction, management and regulation of the projects.
According to the African Development Bank, infrastructure development is a key driver for progress across Africa and a critical enabler for productivity and sustainable economic growth. It contributes significantly to human development, poverty reduction, and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Investment in infrastructure accounts for over half of the recent improvement in economic growth in Africa and has the potential to achieve even more.
Given that it is the largest black country in the world, the most popular investment destination in Africa and home to the continent’s largest population of entrepreneurs, Nigeria has been considered as an African nation most capable of maintaining a framework for the success of Public-Private Partnerships. In Anambra, there are instances of infrastructure projects that have been constructed by the PPP model. The state is one of the first to use PPP for agricultural development, as evidenced by Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency projects, with the likes of Coscharis Farms and JOSAN Agro (rice cultivation and milling), Lynden Integrated Farms (poultry), Ekcel Farms (tomatoes and cassava cultivation) and others. Directly as a consequence of ANSIPPA’s output in attracting investment, the state has witnessed Internally Generated Revenue growth of 440 per cent in recent years.
Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport, one of Nigeria’s biggest airports, is among the other infrastructure improvements seen in the state. On April 30, 2021, the airport experienced its first test flight. The fact that the airport is in Category 4F, which allows an Airbus A380 to safely land there, is one of the things that makes it tick. The runway, which has a length of 3.7 kilometres, a width of 60 metres, and a strip of 440 metres on either side, is the second-longest in Nigeria.
The ICC, Awka, is another piece of infrastructure that has evolved into an iconic building. The ICC is a product of the Willie Obiano administration, which has altered the city’s landscape. Despite, it is one of his least mentioned legacies.
It is remarked to be a masterful architectural marvel that was created to enhance the aesthetic allure of Anambra’s capital city, while also serving the simple function of being Nigeria’s largest and most modern conference centre.
At the moment, the Eko Hotel Convention Center with 5,151 square meters of space and Sheraton Lagos Hotel, Lagos with 6,878 square meters are regarded as some of the largest event centers in Nigeria. The Eko Hotel Convention Center has a capacity to host 6000 in concert.
It beats other architectural aesthetics such as the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Lagos, which has 6,729 square metres of space and one of the largest in the country. In addition, contrary to popular belief, the Abuja International Conference Centre’s main conference hall can only accommodate 2,000 people. The Calabar International Convention Centre, which can seat 5,000 people, is also an excellent conference facility that the ICC outshines.
With a capacity for 10,000 guests, the Awka ICC is evidently different from other projects. It has completely changed the way conferences and large concerts and other shows are hosted in Nigeria. As a result, there will undoubtedly be a slight Eastward tip in the scale of the event management industry. Even if it falls short, it would at least guarantee that the South East is not completely overlooked when events are managed.
One of the essential things to note about the Awka ICC is that, like the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport, some consider it a reflection of Obiano’s aesthetic sensibility, taste and ambition.
The ICC’s architect, Mike Okonkwo, described it as a project that complements Obiano’s enthusiasm for improving Anambra infrastructure. The ICC was built to put the state on the world map, according to Okonkwo, who also acknowledged the former governor’s zeal.
His words, “This edifice is deliberate, not by accident. His Excellency Willie Obiano put a lot of zeal in his quest for infrastructural development in Anambra. The ICC seats 10,000 people; a flexible structure, where it will not only garner conventions but also lend itself to end up for us.
“It is a gigantic magnitude, which adds to the family of the Awka Capital Territory.”
The Women’s Development Centre and the famous Ekwueme Square are both nearby, making the location very advantageous. The Awka ICC, along with other facilities such as the Anambra airport, will continue to stand out as epitome of excellence in Nigeria, in addition to fulfilling its purpose of acting as a hub for international conferences, conventions and sports.
It is understandable why Obiano stated in February, a month before handing over to Governor Chukwuma Soludo, “I have done well, but I am not eyeing any political position after eight years as governor of Anambra because I want to rest from the one I will be completing on March 17. Don’t you see how I have emaciated? It is because I have been working day and night to make our state better.
“I am happy and I don’t need anybody to tell me that I have done well; I know I have done well. I built the airport, the stadium, the ICC and other projects in the state without borrowing money from anybody or any financial institution, and the airport we built is one of the best in the country.”
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