By Collins Nweze
The Federal Government recognizes Lagos State as central to the economic fortunes of Nigeria, President Mohammad Buhari said yesterday.
In his goodwill message at the ongoing Lagos Economic Summit – Ehingbeti- themed ‘‘For a Greater Lagos: Setting the Tone for the Next Decade’- the President said the economic potential of Lagos remained massive.
He assured that the Federal Government will support more investments in Lagos to boost its economic potential as one of the world’s fastest-growing megacities.
President Buhari said his administration has in the last few years demonstrated commitment to supporting Lagos achieve its full socio-economic potential.
He said the Lagos infrastructure is getting attention with railway planned to link Lagos to Ibadan as well as Apapa Wharf to decongest the Ports.
He also said the upgrading of the National Arts Theatre by the Bankers’ Committee will add to the economic strength of Lagos and ensures its economic prosperity leaves no one in doubt.
He lauded the courage of Lagos government on infrastructure and Ease of Doing Business, which he said has no doubt brought the needed local and foreign direct investments into the state.
Also speaking, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said Lagos has always been a beacon of hope in Nigeria, the sheer tenacity and audacity of the Lagosian spirit has over the centuries created vast opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation.
“The challenge for us is to ensure we never forget our indomitable spirit to emerge out of adversity better and stronger. We must continue to maintain and nurture our audacious hope, and the intention to always bounce back from adversity and build back better and boldly. The theme for this year looks out over the next decade, the 2020s. But to properly understand the Lagos of the future, we must look back at the past, and trace the journey we have made to where we are today,” he said.
Continuing, he said Today’s Lagos has seen so many revolutionary changes to usher in a new era of prosperity; reflected in improved infrastructure, economy, and security. We are still confronted with many challenges, no doubt, but it is also important to identify the progress so we can guard it jealously and build on it.
“We are the largest city in Nigeria and the 7th fastest growing city in the world, and the gold factor that sets us above the rest is of course Our human capital: their entrepreneurial energy, optimism and ability to pull together. Our demographic and geographical endowments: over 22 million people, Sea Ports that control over 75 per cent of Nigerian imports, a 180km coastline and the busiest airport in West Africa, Lagos is one huge and accessible market within the West African Economic zone, and well positioned for the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement,” he added.
Snow-Olu projects that in 2030, Lagos will be a Smart City, fully covered by a network of several thousands of kilometers of bre optic infrastructure that will carry broadband internet into our homes, offices and schools and unleash a technology revolution that has never before been seen in this part of the world.
“The Smart City that is unfolding will also be home to a network of intelligent cameras that will support not only security and policing across the State, but also traffic management and data collection for urban planning,” he said.
The newly appointed Director General, World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who delivered her goodwill message virtually at the event, challenged African countries, including Nigeria, to focus more on creation of jobs, going forward, noting that, 60 per cent of Africans are youths.
“The demographics favours African countries, especially, when 60 per cent are youths. They should be effectively deployed into manufacturing, because there is no need importing what can be produced here. For instance, Africa imports 90 per cent of its pharmaceutical products, which shows there is a big market in that space. The continent boost of over 60 per cent of arable lands and yet the continent are not taking advantage of its huge opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing, among others,” she pointed out.
She urged countries on the continent to not only feeds itself through agric and manufacturing, but also exports, instead of being the dumping ground for importers.
She called on Lagos government to focus on artificial, digital economy, by taking advantage of its young and active youths who are already technological savvy and are already leading some tech inventions. “Digital economy is the future and proactive countries are already far ahead in creating artificial and digital economy. Some of our youths are already doing fantastic in tech innovations in mobile payment systems, among others. It’s an area a state such as Lagos should look into because it can create lots of jobs, hence, enhancing socio-economic growth,” she stressed.
President, African Development Bank(AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, urged African countries, and majorly Nigeria to refocus their economic plan towards agriculture, adding that, the strength of the continent lies in agriculture. While applauding the already transformation in agriculatural sector in the country, he urged federal and state governments to create an enabling environment that will attract both local and foreign investments into agriculture, especially, at a time the country is focusing on diversifying its economy.
Chairman, Citibank (Co-Chairman LESG), Yemi Cardoso, said said that Ehingbeti Summit has over the years served as a beacon of change and helped shape the future of Lagos State through public discourse.
The Governor, Lagos State, Honourable Members of the Cabinet and House of Assembly, members of the press, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, all protocols observed. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the 2021 edition of the Lagos Economic Forum, popularly known as the Ehingbeti Summit.
“This great journey began in May 2000, when Ehingbeti broke new ground by becoming the first economic summit held by a sub-national unit in Nigeria. It was the brainchild of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the child of circumstance and necessity, initiated while the first Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration was barely in office a year and had inherited a Lagos that was glaringly creaking and coming apart at the seams. It was clear that a new paradigm for development was needed and the administration set about its task with gusto,” he said.
Continuing, Cardoso said several work groups comprising some of the best and brightest from various walks of life where assembled and charged with fashioning policy thrusts for the different sectors of the economy. One of the recommendations that emanated from this was for the setting up of a Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget.
“Lagos has witnessed appreciable development over the past 10 years. In 2010, Lagos had a Gross Domestic Product of N12.091 trillion; 10 years later, the economy of Lagos has grown to at least 5 times that. This growth in GDP has been accompanied by significant infrastructure development including the Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge, Eko Atlantic and many others. Other sectors such as housing and financial services have also seen significant growth”.