By Jude Atupulazi
Dr. Clem Nwogbo, Group Chairman of M-P Infrastructure, is the man driving the Awka Millennium City project, a project that could redefine business in the South East. What is the project all about? In what ways will it benefit Anambra people? Nwogbo spoke to the media on these and others. Fides’ editor-in-chief, Jude Atupulazi, was there.
What Informed M-P Infrastructure’s decision to pursue a South East Nigeria Investment Strategy?
Capital is like a living organism; it goes and stays where it will thrive the most. For us at M-P Infrastructure Ltd, investing in the South East of Nigeria, Anambra in particular, was a question of time. We were always aware of the economic potentials of the South East dating back to the era of the late Michael Okpara, former Premier of the Eastern Region of Nigeria, and then the Jim Nwobodo era as Governor of (Old) Anambra State and up till the present time of Governor Willie Obiano. Recall that Nigeria’s industrial revolution also took place in the South East. Companies such as Eastern Nigeria Development Company (ENDC), Golden Guinea Breweries Ltd, Modern Ceramics, Nkalagu Cement, Premier Breweries, and so on were all thriving South East Nigeria based firms.
We were never in doubt of the huge economic potentials that abound in the region. The demographics of the teeming population, their rising purchasing power, the increase in the number of educated members of the population, etc. As the population grew, and the people got more sophisticated and enlightened, their needs and tastes will increase too, so; already, we could see the gaps in the market for various products and services.
We align ourselves to the clarion ‘Aku Luo Uno’ (Bring your wealth home) call. It does not matter whether to the east, west, north or south. This is the quickest way we can achieve rapid development, if people can take investments to the regions, we will create local jobs, pay local taxes and through that, states and local governments will have resources to work for their people.
As an investor, you also look out for a location where the operating environment is stable and not hostile, you also consider the ease of doing business in such location, how easy it is to enter, of course the buying power of the people, and good returns on investments. We found all these in Anambra. Perhaps one of Governor Willie Obiano’s enduring legacies in the state is the setting up of Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), the one-stop investment office for everything investment in Anambra State. They have helped in making us to register our footprint easily in Anambra State.
We first started with our multi-million naira agricultural project at Igbariam which began operations in 2016. Lynden Integrated Farms is a modern integrated poultry farm project located at Igbariam in Anambra East Local Government Area of the state. That investment is doing quite well. It is probably one of the biggest mechanized and integrated poultry projects not only in the South East but in Nigeria.
I am from Awka (Anambra state) and have always believed that our people can live, work and play better. Unfortunately, our research showed that it is not possible to create the kind of living and lifestyle that we see in places like Lagos and Abuja from the kind of old city planning that was done in Awka. That really led our thinking towards creating a brand-new city in Awka. The project which we call Awka Millennium City is also in line with the ambition of the state government under Governor Willie Obiano to bridge the housing deficit in the state.
What is Awka Millennium City all about?
Awka Millennium City is an ambitious yet iconic, master-planned gated- Community Public-Private partnership (PPP) project which will be a large-scale residential neighborhood with residential, commercial and recreational facilities and amenities, such as schools, leisure and entertainment centres, parks and playgrounds.
The estate will boast of roads built to global standards, as well as drainage, paving, sewage systems, 24/7 security, fibre ducts, regular power, estate maintenance, amazing natural landscaping and parks for families to relax and play. It will have swimming pools, sports facilities etc. There is going to be a whole lifestyle experience for owners and residents of the estate.
You can see that we are not just selling land or homes but we are building and guaranteeing a lifestyle community with all its trappings. We are proud to be bringing the best to the east.
The city will be located within the 3-Arms Zone which will also house the new offices and residencies of members of the executive, judiciary and legislative arms of government.
Many dub this zone the New Awka. It will come with 24 hours CCTV surveillance and access control, underground cables, water treatment, sidewalks for jogging and sporting activities, etc.
You can compare Awka Millennium City to the best estates in Lagos and Abuja and it will be completed in 30 months. However, Phase 1 involving 25 hectares out of the total 100 hectares will be ready within 18 months. The investment value of the project is $46.5 Million with the state government donating the land as equity. Profit sharing ratio is 73% for M-P Infrastructure and 24% for Anambra State Government. 3% has been reserved to fund community social responsibility projects.
The project has been structured in such a way that companies and individuals within the value chain will all derive value. We are projecting the creation of at least 400 direct and indirect jobs. We will be using some local suppliers also. For example, we have engaged Anambra State Hydrafoam Company in a N120M contract to fence the whole project site. Think about the trickledown effect of this on the local Anambra economy. They have been mobilized and are already on site working.
Who can subscribe to own a home in Awka Millennium City?
People who value the good life at reasonable and affordable prices. Our people work so hard in different parts of the world where they dwell. Some do go home to their respective villages and towns and build houses. Unfortunately, these houses are not occupied and get busy only at Christmas time or during family events such as burials, weddings, etc. Many when they visit don’t even make use of their houses because of the stress of cleaning up, etc. In some cases, the houses are run down and taken over by villagers, cousins, etc. Awka Millennium City offers a better way out for such people to own a home in a luxury estate in Awka that will be serviced, while still maintaining or keeping their village homes if they wish to. Anambra is reputed to have one of the best road networks in Nigeria, so owning a home at Awka Millennium City makes so much sense, as one can commute to his or her own village in Anambra and arrive within 30-45 minutes.
We are not building a billionaire city as some have alleged. This is why in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), we are committed to dedicating 25% of the 100 hectares to built-up housing stock for anyone interested to subscribe. This means that M-P Infrastructure will actually build these houses and then offer them for sale to Ndi Anambra and other interested subscribers. The houses will include 5-bedroom, 4-bedroom, terrace and detached homes.
The remaining 75% of the 100 hectares fall under what we call site and services offering where interested subscribers purchase plots of land and build according to approved prototypes. We will deliver on this project and in record time too. We gave Ndi Anambra that assurance at the MoU signing which held at the Anambra State Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. We have strong footprints in the state and in other states in telecommunications, agriculture and road construction. We bring our professional, financial capacity and competence in all we do. We are stakeholders in the Anambra and Nigeria projects and believe in the long-term development of our state. Ndi Anambra should look at what we did at our Lynden Farms project at Igbariam to understand what our Group is all about. We mean business. I want to use this opportunity once again to reassure Ndi Anambra and other stakeholders of our commitment to delivering on this all-important project.
Already our sales and marketing office has been inaugurated. We had high level state government officials and other critical stakeholders at the inauguration which held on Tuesday, August 20, 2019. The office is located at No. 50 Ifite Road, off Aroma Junction, Awka. On that day we also handed over almost a billion-naira worth of assets and cash to the special purpose vehicle (Awka Millennium City Development Co. Ltd) created between the state government and MP-Infrastructure Ltd for the project.
We make bold to say that not many operators in the real estate industry have such capacity. We have shown that we are serious, ready and committed. If you visit the site today, you will be amazed at the level of work going on, site clearing, road construction etc. We are all gearing up for the December 2019 ground breaking. Now is the time to take advantage of the emerging investment opportunities that Awka Millennium City offers.
What will you be doing differently in the real estate sector?
We are not unmindful of some of the issues facing the sector, mainly poor service delivery. Many people have bad experiences with real estate investment with some developers promising world-class infrastructure to tempt off-takers, but delivering sub-optimally. This has led to people’s money being tied down in such investments with no value appreciation years later. This is so sad.
At Awka Millennium City, we are doing things differently. We are mindful of this cynicism in the market; that’s why we have invested heavily in capital infrastructure that will ensure we have end -to -end control over delivery of the estate infrastructure to ensure quality and timely delivery.
This will reduce any risk of transaction failure. By the time of the groundbreaking in December 2019, you will see a fully functional construction yard with batch plants, concrete and paving stone production factory to assure quality control and delivery.
Also, the access road and monument gate into the estate would have been ready. We are pursuing this project aggressively as this will assure doubters that Awka Millennium City is here to change the narrative in the South East Real Estate market. We are changing the game.
The same way some people were cynical when we signed the Lynden Farms MOU with the Anambra State Government, now we have delivered the biggest and most modern integrated farm in the South East, employing hundreds of people and engaging many more in the agro value chain.
At M-P Infrastructure Group, we are very deliberate and strategic in our investments. We do take a long-term view of our investments and the markets where we play. We go in to disrupt the market and innovate where others saw no value, that’s the MPI way. We are very hopeful. By God’s grace, dedication and hard-work, we hope to make Awka Millennium City a great success story like in our other projects in telecommunications, agriculture, oil and gas.
For additional information
Interested subscribers can check our website http://www.awkamillenniumcity.com/ for further details or call 09060004203