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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Ibom Blue Sea Project and its Prospects for Akwaibomites

On Thursday, December 19, 2019, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel flagged-off the reconstruction of the moribund Science and Technology Park in Uyo amidst cheers from the host community and the people of the state.

The Blue Sea Science and Technology Park which is situated in five villages in Itu and two villages in Uyo Local Government Area, covers a stretch of 548-square-kilometer in the state.

The project which was initiated 13 years ago by the Victor Attah administration was stalled by the immediate past administration on grounds that its location is erosion prone, and that no matter the building erected there, it would be threatened.

However, the China Blue Sea International Holdings, after surveying the region and certifying it as most suitable for the edifice has assured that the same abandoned site which was said would be more costly to fix, than the cost of the project itself; will comprise a Technical University, Vocational Training Base, a High-Tech Building Materials Plant, a five-star hotel and a hospital.

From all indications, the project which will carry the design concept of leading science and technology, intelligence, foresight and ecology, will become of symbolic historical significance.

The decision by Gov. Udom Emmanuel to revisit the Science and Technology Park Project initiated in 2006 by the then governor, Arc Victor Attah is another well-thought-out initiative of Gov. Emmanuel to create an enabling environment that will situate Akwa Ibom strategically in the world's technological map. This project on completion will  leave generations unborn in awe of the visionary disposition of a man who sees tomorrow.

Without any dispute, we are living in a world of technology. In fact, technology drives our world. Our economy, Banking system, Automobile industry, Agriculture, Medicine, Education, Fashion, Media, and many others are technology- dependent. Till the end of time, the world will still be sustained by technology and without which, life will be miserable.

A cursory look at this shows that the future of Akwa Ibom state is not only sealed, but we are on our way to creating a guaranteed destination for our children and youths.

Analysts have foreseen that the Ibom Blue Sea Science and Technology Park will bring jobs, employments and development to the people of the Area and as well promote the construction and transformation of the state power plant, Sea port and free trade zone when fully constructed.

This initiative is in line with Gov. Emmanuel's determination to make Akwa Ibom a tourist destination and project the state to the world. Investors are already trooping into the state to be a part of this generational blessing.

This is the kind of project that leaders of nations initiate for their countries and are celebrated throughout their lifetime, and Akwa Ibom is so blessed to have a governor who is not only technology-driven, but has a clear vision for the future of Akwa Ibom people.

For those who do not know and are still in the dark of what a Science Park portends for a nation, a science park is an infrastructure of the global knowledge economy which provides locations that foster innovation, development and commercialisation of technology where governments, universities and private companies can collaborate.

According to Link and Scott (2015), Science parks are commonly described as physical areas where multiple knowledge-intensive organisations and institutes co-locate and where innovation is formally and informally leveraged.
They differ from high-technology business districts in that they are more organized, planned, and managed and lead to commercialized products from research.
They also differ from industrial and business parks which focus on manufacturing and administration only.
Its benefits are numerous as it offers a number of shared resources ranging from programs to activities, uninterruptible power supply, telecommunications hubs, reception and security, management offices, bank offices, convention center, parking, and internal transportation; where one can shop at a stop.

This is so that knowledge can be shared, innovation promoted, and research outcomes progressed to viable commercial products.
For a nation, a Science park contributes to national economic development, stimulating the formation of new high-technology firms, attracting foreign investment and promoting exports., while a host community enjoys the presence of a science park in the area of job opportunity.

This is because people from all fields and skills are needed to assist the developers of technology to bring their work to commercial fruition.

From masons, to artisans, stone carvers, bricklayers, skilled and unskilled labourers, all forms of crafts are required in the make-up of the Park.

For example, sports facilities, restaurants, crèches or pleasant outdoor areas would require the inputs of vendors from within.

Notably, Science parks are found across the globe. Research has it that they are most common in developed countries like North America which has over 170 science parks.
For us in Nigeria, the Akwa Ibom situated Blue Sea Project is the first of its kind and will yield huge benefits if lauded and allowed to sail through.

The project, when completed, will boost our sagging economy which is its paramount essence.
It will provide abundant space for growth courtesy of its large outdoor spaces that facilitate business growth and expansion.

Comprising adequate office space, fully-equipped laboratories, proper storage and warehouse facilities, and high-quality conference rooms and meeting centers, organisations with limited funds and high preliminary expenses can benefit from these facilities.

As startups grow, they often require bigger offices and more facilities. Most technology parks provide ample space for business development.

A key advantage of the Blue Sea project is that it will be a consistent following stream of the latest technology equipped with high-speed broadband internet and telecommunication facilities that will make it easy to establish and manage a business.
Also, Science Parks come with a range of social amenities such as gyms, shopping centers, swimming pools, restaurants, recreational centres, nurseries for rest, workers’ and family recreation.

Furthermore, a Science Park is equipped with various security features for the protection of workers, properties and information.
To prevent data theft and vandalism, technology parks are equipped with state-of-the-art security features. From surveillance cameras to a network of security guards, these parks have several measures in place to reduce the likelihood of criminal activities.

With these juicy prospects, it is of cardinal importance that Akwaibomites key into the making of this emerging giant in the state which will not only upgrade Akwa Ibom on the pedals of industrialised states, but will as well seat Nigeria among developing nations.

Just as some leaders of thoughts has called for the protection of the project by the host communities, Akwa Ibom  people should also ensure that the hitherto abandoned site which had become a beehive of criminal activities, returns to its intended state of prestige and tourism.
The Blue Sea project has come, let us make it stay.

Akwa Ibom people in particular, and Nigerians in general will ever live to be grateful to Gov. Emmanuel- A man who sees tomorrow and "seizes" it for his people.

Richard Peters is a public Affairs Analyst, writes in from Uyo.

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