By Moses Adeniyi
Executive Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is currently on an ambassadorial business tour to the number one Asia’s economic giant, China, in a bid to draw investors to Lagos, Africa’s fifth largest economy.
This is coming barely three months after the Governor in company of President Muhammadu Buhari embarked on a trip to Japan.
It has been gathered that the trip to the Asian Giants are tailored towards scaling up bilateral relations in attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Lagos.
According to sources, the Governor’s working visit to the world’s second-largest economy is largely aimed at striking partnerships and agreements in support of the vision of transforming Lagos State’s economy befitting to the 21st century smart city standard.
It was gathered that among the schedules is a meeting of the Governor with the top management teams of China Railway Construction Company (CRCC) and the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) for a joint appraisal of ongoing projects being handled in Lagos by the Chinese construction giants.
Also, the Governor is scheduled to make a keynote speech at the China-Africa Business Council, which aims at tabling Lagos agenda before the Chinese investment community as well as making known the State’s openness to foreign investments.
In addition, it was learnt the Governor will be leading a economic ambassadorial team to Zhuhai Changiong Ocean Park, Huawei, GAC Motor Factory and Gree Air Conditioning for talks on partnerships in industry, tourism and facility development.
The Governor has since inception of his administration shown commitment to attracting Foreign Direct Investment, an agenda, the present administration considers critical to improving infrastructure, renewable energy, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and transportation among other needs to actualise the dream of a 21st Century Lagos Smart City.
Sanwo-Olu has been very stern on his quest to actualise the six pillars of the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda, the policy thrust of his administration, through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with both local and foreign sources of finance. The Governor had last Friday, while presenting the N1.1trillion 2020 proposed budget, disclosed that the State will be funding part of the budget expenditures through external borrowings.
Lagos efforts in building investment friendly business economy is believed to be yielding results in the past few months, with recent report of the World Bank appraising the State as a significant contributor to Nigeria’s performance in the Ease of Doing Business Index which ranked the country 15 places higher than last ranking.
Since inception of the Sanwo-Olu led administration, Lagos and China have strengthened their bilateral relations with a recent signing of four agreements with China Development Bank (CDB), the venture that occasioned the $629 million financing facility to accelerate completion of the Lekki Deep Seaport project, projected to be completed in 30 months.
The financing loan was secured from the Chinese bank after China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), which owns majority shares in the project. The agreement is a 45-year concessionary agreement with Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited (LPLTZ) to complete the first phase of Nigeria’s first deep seaport in Lekki, a coastal community in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, Lagos.
It has been disclosed the deep seaport is designed to have two container berths of 680-metre long and 16.5-metre water depth. It is also expected have the capacity to berth fifth generation container ships, which has a capacity of 18,000 TEU cargoes.
Sanwo-Olu had described the agreement as “another milestone” for the State in infrastructural development and commerce, stressing that the signing of the agreements ended the uncertainty that had trailed the delivery of the project almost a decade since it began in 2011.
The Chinese Government had earlier in September expressed readiness to strengthen its partnership with Lagos State and increase business Chinese investment in Africa’s fifth largest economy.
Consul General of the Chinese Embassy in Lagos, Mr. Chu Mao Ming, had during a courtesy visit to the Governor, expressed the readiness of the Chinese government to work with the State to further strengthen bilateral relationship.
He had said; “Today I’m bringing business representatives both from the public and the private sectors.
“We will like to work with you and your government to promote cooperation between China and Nigeria, particularly in the South-east and the Southwest in many fields.” Mao Ming said.
According to him the China’s National Offshore Oil Corporation, the third largest oil company in China, is set to expand its investment foothold in Lagos from U.S. $18billion to U.S. $300billion.
He further disclosed that the company “invested up to the end of 2018 U.S. $18billion in Lagos and I heard that the company will invest up to U.S. $300billion more in Lagos.”