The main thrust of the summit was to focus on how Lagos, the commercial nerve of Nigeria, can become a first-choice destination for foreign investors giving its viable potentials. Major areas that were examined are Power, Agriculture, Transportation and Housing (PATH).
The Chairman of the organising committee of this year’s summit, Ben Akabueze, explained, “Each of these sectors serves as an enabler for all other sectors of the Nigerian economy because anything that touches on power, food security, transportation and housing definitely affects the generality of the people.”
Participants at the summit included local and foreign investors, captains of industries, private-public sector operators and policy makers. It highlighted opportunities in power, housing, transportation, agro-allied and tourism sectors that investors could tap into.
Razia Khan, the key speaker, and the Vice-President Africa region, Standard Chartered bank, said that Nigeria might emerge as Africa’s largest economy in the next few years if it maintains its current growth rate.
Another speaker at the summit, Wonuola Adetayo, the Chief Executive Officer of SoftSkills Management Consultant Firm, said, “For Nigeria to be among emerging economies, Lagos state has the key; there is the need to upgrade its infrastructure to world-class level, invest in urban renewal, mass housings, power generation, agro-allied and an effective intra-modal transportation system that will tap potentials in rail, water and roads.”
Wonuola said the significance of the commercial city lies in the fact that it contributes 25% of the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with 65% of the commercial activities coming from the city — the headquarters of many of the banking and financial institutions.
It is believed that Lagos needs about 12,000 mega watts of electricity to meet its industrial and domestic needs and about one million houses for the ever-increasing population.
Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, said even though Lagos has the key to make Nigeria a “BRINCS” member, it couldn’t do so alone without the contributions of other parts of the country. “It will be no good being a BRINCS member if we still battle polio and struggle to provide water. We must work hard at achieving it,” he said.
According to President Goodluck Jonathan who was represented by Mr Olusegun Aganga, Minister of Trade and Investment, the Federal government is ready to partner with the Lagos state government to improve power generation. “We know that the issue of power cannot be solved by the federal government alone. And there are many investment opportunities that abound in the power sector. For this reason, we have privatised the power sector. And we further focus on creating an enabling environment for investors to survive in the country.
“Our administration will work with the state government to deliver power to the citizens of Nigeria. My administration will work closely with the state government and the private sector to deliver power supply to Nigerians. In this regard, the federal government is ready to partner with the state governments particularly Lagos State government to improve power generation and distribution through the Public Private Partnership (PPP),” he said.
“Lagos is home to about 2,000 industrial complexes, 10,000 commercial ventures and 22 industrial estates. It contributes 30% to the nation’s GDP (2006 statistics) and is the leading contributor to the non-oil sector GDP (2011 statistics). Lagos accounts for over 60% of Nigeria’s industrial and commercial activities; 70% of national maritime cargo freight, over 80% of international aviation traffic and over 50% of Nigeria’s energy consumption”.
With a population of close to 20 million and proximity to many West African countries, Lagos markets look most attractive as participants believe that ‘if the country could overcome its infrastructure and security challenges, it could become part of the emerging economies like Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS).
The acronym BRICS was coined by Golden Sachs, a leading financial rating firm, to highlight the potentials of these countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) based on their economic growths, population, level of infrastructural development, and prospects of becoming an industrialised economies in the nearest feature.
“Lagos holds the key in attaining this goal because of the level of economic activities it is generating. It contributes 80% of the International passenger flows in the country. In addition, the two sea ports generate about 70% of the cargo freights,” a participant, Wale Shonibare, said.
The participants also stressed the need to institutionalise good governance, transparency, accountability, rule of law, policy consistency, security and improved regular power system, to attract needed investments.
In his address the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said the resolve of the state government to continue to hold the biennial economic summit demonstrates their commitment to the cause of Lagos economic growth and sustainable development. According to him, “We have been driven by our imagination, and the desire to transform Lagos into what we firmly believe is infinitely possible – Africa’s model mega city.
“It is no longer debatable that the growth poles for the world are to be found mainly in the emerging markets of Asia and Africa and Nigeria is an important part of this projection.
“Our focus on power, agriculture and agro-allied, transportation, and housing and urban renewal is relevant now because we believe it is the path that will lead us to BRINCS,” he said, adding that his administration was working on providing 2,000 new homes for residents across the state.