By Ebenezer Ishola
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has urged existing and potential investors to continuously see Lagos, “the crown sub-national jewel of the African economy,” as a choice place for investments.
He said Lagos State is the right place for investments in FinTech, EdTech, Health-Tech, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Talent Training and Placement, or Physical Infrastructure like Data Centers, among others.
“It is always my very great pleasure to engage with existing and potential investors and business people in Nigeria, and most especially, Lagos State, the crown subnational jewel of the African economy. I am sure many of you will be familiar with the numbers, the fact that Lagos is the fifth largest economy on the continent, the most populous city, and the fastest-growing urban center, with a very vibrant and entrepreneurial population, made up of mostly young people.
“We have the market, we have the talent, we have the enabling environment, we have the physical infrastructure, all in place. And we have the success stories, great testimonials of what is possible when people come together to develop and implement great ideas and solutions, backed by the power of private capital and the support of understanding and enthusiastic governments,” he said.
Governor Sanwo-Olu spoke at a High-Level US-Nigeria Council for Food Security, Trade and Investment (UNSC) event on the sidelines of the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings in Washington DC, United States on Thursday.
The Governor acknowledged the place of the US-Nigeria Council, as the pre-eminent business organisation working to strengthen economic and commercial ties between the United States and Nigeria.
Governor Sanwo-Olu during the event spoke on the giant strides of his administration in different sectors, especially in Infrastructure, Food Security and Digital Technology, in line with the THEMES six pillars developmental agenda – Transportation and Traffic Management, Healthcare and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Megacity, Entertainment, Tourism and Sports, and Security and Governance.
He said: “One of the accomplishments we are proudest of, in our first four years, has been the completion of the first phase of the Lagos Light Rail Blue Line – the first modern intra-city rail system in Lagos State.
“As I speak test-running is going on, allowing Lagosians to have a long-overdue feel of what it is to belong to a city with the 21st-century rail system.
“We are also completing work on the first phase of the Red Line; together the Blue and Red Lines form two of the planned total of six Lines that will crisscross the metropolis.
“At the beginning of this year, the President joined us in Lagos to commission the Lekki Deep Sea Port, on the eastern corridor of Lagos. It will interest you to know that the Deep-Sea Port is the first Deep Sea Port to be built in Nigeria, and is now the most modern one in West Africa. A real game-changer for shipping and logistics in Nigeria and all of the West Coast of Africa.
“Lagos State owns a 20 percent stake in that Port, while private investors own 75 percent. The Port will create an estimated 170,000 direct and indirect jobs and generate government revenue over of $200 billion over its 45-year concession period.
“It is in our view among the biggest and most transformational infrastructure investments in Lagos State in several decades, and we worked very hard with the private sector and the Federal Government to deliver it.
“Expect more of these kinds of collaboration in the next four years, especially as we look to deliver on a new bridge across the Lagos Lagoon, the 4th Mainland Bridge, and a new International Airport in Lagos.”
The Governor said some of the large-scale infrastructure projects being implemented by his administration are, a 10-lane Expressway, linking Nigeria to Benin Republic; a network of Access Roads to the Lekki Deep Sea Port.
Speaking on the Lagos State Government’s commitment to agriculture and food security, Governor Sanwo-Olu said his government focus is on processing and storage because of the State’s population, which makes it Nigeria’s biggest food consumption hub.
“We are also very blessed with water – a lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, which means fisheries is a huge opportunity. It is with these opportunities in mind that we have recently completed the largest rice mill in sub-Saharan Africa, which will be managed by private players, while also building what will be the largest Food Security Systems and Central Logistics Park in sub-Saharan Africa.
“This Park with storage facilities that can guarantee uninterrupted food supplies to more than 10 million persons, for at least 90 days, is one of the outcomes of our five-year Lagos State Agricultural and Food Systems Road Map (2021–2025). I will encourage you all to get as familiar as possible with these Lagos State Government policy documents and road maps, which give an overview of our thinking and policy direction.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu also spoke about Lagos State Government’s success in digital technology and innovation, noting that Nigeria’s ICT Sector, a component of the digital economy, was the only sector of the economy that grew by double digits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Lagos, I am proud to say, is the Fintech Capital of Africa, the city where companies like Flutterwave, Paystack and Interswitch were birthed. And these are only three of several thriving startups in our ecosystem.
“According to Afridigest, Africa had, as of February 2023, seven Unicorn Companies. Of those seven, four originated in Nigeria, Lagos to be precise, and all four attained their unicorn status between 2019 and 2021. These four are 9 also reported to be responsible for $7.5billion of the 11.45 billionon total valuation of African unicorns.
“Last year, Microsoft launched its Africa Development Center in Lagos, while Google landed its Equiano Sub-Sea Cable on our shores. We have, in the last few years, seen a huge number of major new data center investments, value more thanof 1.5 billion US dollars.”
He stressed further that “As a State Government we are partnering with the Federal Government, and the private sector, to redevelop the National Theatre, a Lagos landmark, into a world-class Creative and Technology Park, with hubs for IT, Music, Fi, lm, and Fashion. That multi-million-dollar redevelopment is very well advanced now and should be completed this year.
“I must also not fail to mention the fact that Nigeria now has a Startup Act, The Nigeria Startup Act, which was signed into law by President Buhari some months ago, and which is further solidifying our status as the country of choice for technology investment in Africa.
“On our own, as the Lagos State Government, we have recently completed the laying of 3,000km fiber-optic cable and associated infrastructure across the State, connecting public buildings and infrastructure, as part of our Smart City Project. That Smart City Project also includes hundreds of video surveillance cameras, to improve security in the metropolis, as well as help us better coordinate our emergency response systems.
“Another key element of this Smart City Project is our Intelligent Transport System, which helps us to manage traffic better. Anyone who’s familiar with Lagos knows that traffic management is very key to maximizing the potential of the megacity.
“Our Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC) exists to provide funding and strategic support to science and technology research and innovation in Lagos State, from academia and from the private sector. So far LASRIC has funded more than 60 startups working in healthcare, agriculture, construction, alternative energy, the circular economy, Software as a Service (SaaS) and so on.
“Digital Transformation is a key priority for us, introducing digital tools to re-imagine and underline everything we do as a government, from our internal operations to our interactions with the public. Some of the ways we have digitally transformed our service offerings across various economic sectors include; digitizing the payments systems for our multi-modal transport networks, as well as the delivery of our educational curriculum in our public schools.”
Speaking on the May 29 swearing-in of the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Governor Sanwo-Olu said: “We have a new President-Elect who will be sworn in on May 29: Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos State, between 1999 and 2007. For me personally, it means a lot, my first public sector job was in the Lagos State Government when he was Governor, and also the fact that we will have a President who, having governed Lagos, has a very personal understanding of its needs and challenges.
“Lagos will continue to be in alignment with the ruling party at the center, which we have enjoyed for the last eight years, and which has been transformational for us in various ways.”