SPEECH: Inauguration Of The Steering Committee Of The Ekiti Knowledge Zone

September 4, 2013

Keynote Remarks by

His Excellency Dr. Kayode FAYEMI

Governor, Ekiti State, Nigeria

at the Inauguration of the Steering Committee of the Ekiti Knowledge Zone

Monday, August 26, 2013



Ekiti people are known as a people who love, seek and celebrate knowledge.  We have arguably produced the highest number of professors and academic pioneers in Nigeria, which include the first Nigerian Professor in the field of Mathematics: Professor Adegoke Olubummo, the first Professor of Architecture in West Africa: Professor Adeyinka Adeyemi and other globally renowned academics such as Professors J. Ade-Ajayi, Niyi Osundare, Sam Aluko, Peter Bodunrin to name a few. We also have countless of our people who are leading lights in every field of human endeavour as well as those who are at the frontiers of research in the academia all over the world.

Faced with the challenge of how to effectively and organically transform our agrarian economy and convert our intellectual Capital to prosperity for the people of Ekiti, it was therefore a logical choice to turn to knowledge as the primary product in which we can trade successfully. Thus the seed of creating the Ekiti Knowledge Zone was sown.

To survive and thrive in today’s global economy, Ekiti needs to step out of the shadows, let go of yesterday’s strategies and leap into the future with new processes, new approaches to solving our problem. “Innovate or Die” is a quote attributed to Bill Gates – Founder of Microsoft Corporation and the Gates Foundation.  This administration is committed to converting its brain into brawn for the people by accelerating development, skipping less efficient routes and moving directly to more advanced stages such as a knowledge-based economy – a system of consumption and production that is based on intellectual capital rather than on physical inputs or natural resources. Hence, we would develop our economy by trading skills and activities in which our constituents are well versed in. Fields such as teaching, research, technical back-stopping/support, consulting e.t.c.

On the route to transforming our economy through knowledge, we have some illustrious predecessors. Malaysia’s agrarian economy of the 1960s was very similar to the Ekiti economy of today. In the early 1990s, the country embarked on a series of initiatives that were aimed at rapidly developing Malaysia into an industrialized nation by year 2020. The strategy of choice: leapfrogging through a knowledge-based framework. By 1996, Malaysia had begun to attract Investors to projects such as the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) using incentives like temporary tax breaks and facilities such as high-speed Internet access and proximity to an International Airport. Today, it seems that Malaysia has achieved that goal with several years to spare.

Another example of note is the once sleepy town of Palo Alto in California US, where following the 2nd World War, leaders of Stanford University found that not unlike Ekiti, their host community was cash-poor and far from the preferred destination by any parameters. They came up with a strategy for trading what the community had (Land) for what the community wanted (Cash) in a creative exchange that provided a space where new ideas could be nurtured and birthed. Private sector industries were invited to collaborate with the University in this exchange, the result of which was the Stanford Research Park – at that time, the first of its kind in the US. Silicon Valley, as it was later known, became a reference point to a globally impacting technology hub, which housed best-in-class Companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Adobe, Apple, CISCO, eBay, Facebook, Yahoo, Intel and many more too numerous to list.

The question has been raised: Why would Investors want to come to Ekiti? In a rapidly industrializing world, a number of Countries are enjoying an increasing role in the world economy and on political platforms. In late 2005, Nigeria was listed among a group named the Next Eleven (N-11) – eleven countries (Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey, South Korea, and Vietnam) identified by leading Economists and Investors as having a high potential of also becoming the world’s largest economies in the 21st century (GoldmanSachs.com). Criteria reviewed for the selection of these countries include macroeconomic stability, political maturity, openness of trade and investment policies, and the quality of education.

By the end of 2012, four of these countries had emerged ahead of the pack in terms of prospects. According to KPMG Australia, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) with the exception of China had fallen disappointingly short of growth expectations. Under pressure to find new avenues for growth in a sagging global economy, the world’s most powerful CEOs are now cautiously shifting their attention to the MINT countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey). Together these countries accounted for just 5% of global growth in the past ten years, but are forecast to climb to more than 8% over the next five years (KPMG). In particular, Nigeria’s growth is projected to climb to 6.8% in 2013, well ahead of current regional leader South Africa. This puts Nigeria in general at an advantage and provides an opportunity for Ekiti in particular to position itself strategically to attract the attention of Investors. With its reputation as being a leader in the production of superior intellectual Capital, Ekiti can convincingly position itself as and effectively evolve into a knowledge-based economy. This is the rationale behind the creation of the Ekiti Knowledge Zone (EKZ).

The EKZ is conceived to be a place where we can match Ekiti’s global repertoire of Academic Experts and pioneers with platinum players in the industrial and scientific community, cross-fertilize revolutionary ideas and produce innovative concepts, products and services that will positively impact the state, our nation, sub-Saharan Africa and by extension, make conscious, holistic contributions to the advancement of humanity.

This Steering Committee is therefore constituted to provide technical direction in the articulation of the EKZ Programme. Members are experts who have distinguished themselves in their individual fields and they collectively represent the various sectors that will guarantee results, which are globally competitive while being locally effective. An Industrialist has been selected to Chair the Committee in order to ensure that our output is both intellectually and commercially viable. The Terms of Reference of the Steering Committee include:

  • Serving as an advisory body to the Government in the establishment of the Knowledge Zone;
  • Studying and advising the Ministry of Trade, Investments and Innovations on the most appropriate model or hybrid model best suited to deliver the Programme objectives in Ekiti;
  • Reviewing current Trade Zone Legislation at State, Federal and international levels and advise the Government on creating an enabling legislative environment for the EKZ;
  • Advising and providing guidance to the Ministry of Trade, Investments and Innovations in developing different categories of Agreements with Partners and Investors in the EKZ Programme;
  • Advising on the constitution and institution of the EKZ Management Authority, which will oversee the operations of the Knowledge Zone

In closing, I charge the Members of the Steering Committee to be single-minded in the goal of delivering first-class results that are of international standards and also reflective of the Ekiti spirit. It is therefore my pleasure and privilege to inaugurate the Steering Committee on the Ekiti Knowledge Zone for the greater benefit of the people of our beloved Ekiti State, Nigeria, Ile Iyi, Ile Eye.



Dr. Kayode Fayemi

Governor, Ekiti State, Nigeria

Monday, August 26, 2013

Last modified: September 4, 2013

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