Sen. Gabriel Suswam, a former Governor of Benue, has commissioned Africa’s first Digital coconut oil refinery in Akwa Ibom.
Suswam commissioned the Factory in Ikot Akpan Okop village in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area.
He applauded Gov. Udom Emmanuel for venturing into an area as unique as the coconut oil refinery to boost the state’s economy.
“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.
“Moreover, what you did in Akwa Ibom has not been done in Nigeria. You are launching Akwa Ibom on a global stage,” Suswam said.
However, in his remarks, Gov. Emmanuel declared the refinery, known as St. Gabriel Coconut Refinery, as first in magnitude and level in Africa.
“In Akwa Ibom, we attracting foreign direct investment,” he said.
Emmanuel said the project came through his desire to open more windows for foreign direct investments.
Furthermore, he explained that a barrel of coconut oil goes for US$ 1,326, adding that the dwindling crude oil fortunes moved him to explore other economic possibilities, using available resources.
Emmanuel said coconut oil has become a major economic driver in the international market.
Meanwhile, 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.
Emmanuel said the factory would employ no fewer than 3,000 direct and indirect staff.
He pledged to plant two million more coconut stands before exiting office in 2023.
2 Million stands
According to reports, the factory was; flagged off on May 24, 2017, as St. Gabriel Coconut Oil Factory.
The factory is owned by the Akwa Ibom Government which commenced; with the cultivation of 2 million stands of hybrid coconut seedlings on an 11-hectare piece of land.
The refinery comprises a factory complex complete with administrative offices, production areas, technical spaces, as well as 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.