By Moses Adeniyi
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has said the State needs no less than $15billion to meet the infrastructure needs of the State in the face of new challenges.
The Governor who spoke on Thursday at the third Lagos Investors’ Roundtable organised by the State’s Office of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Investment said the demand is borne by rising realities of population explosion and the limited geographical space of the State.
Mentioning that Lagos as a low-lying aquatic city with over 22 million citizens, confined to the smallest land mass in Nigeria, is especially vulnerable to all the challenges of a sprawling, densely populated, climate-challenged, fast-growing Megacity, he said contributions of the private sector remain critical to meet the deficits by critical investments.
“Our infrastructure needs alone – in the face of our rising population and limited geography – exceed $15 billion annually – five times (5X) the annual State budget.
“We must find, and urgently too, solutions to all of these problems. That is the burden of responsibility that lies on us as political and business leaders.
“As politicians it is necessary because that is what we have been elected to do; as business leaders it is imperative because the survival of our various businesses depends on it.
“But all of these solutions — healthcare, education, agriculture, environment, security, automation, and many more; captured in our T.H.E.M.E.S. governing agenda — must be paid for.
“Even the best strategies, solutions and plans require funding, for them to be useful to societies.
“Distinguished Investors, this is where you come in, as the partners and vehicles who will deploy the capital and the financial mechanisms that will underwrite the solutions to all of the challenges and problems that we face, as subnational and national entities, and as a planet,” he said.
At the roundtable discussion on investment with stakeholders in the Lagos investment ecosystem, the Governor said continued growth and success of Lagos has been premised on the strength and diversity of partnerships.
“It is such strategic partnerships that account for Lagos being by far the leading recipient of local and foreign direct investment in Nigeria,” he said.
Mentioning that in the last few years, about 80 percent of the investment into Nigeria, has come into Lagos, he said the investments remain vital to the State’s economic growth and wellbeing, “supporting tens of thousands of jobs and livelihoods across the city.”
According to him, the forum was important as a platform for harmonising respective visions and targets, and agreeing on key actions “that will not only strengthen existing investment partnerships but also initiate new ones.”
“As a government, we understand the value of these relationships in fostering economic resilience, particularly during times of uncertainty, like this one we are in, marked by the combined effects of a global pandemic, climate change, global inflation, the burden of poverty and social and economic inequality, among others,” he said.
Mentioning that Lagos State is open and ready for investment, innovation and collaboration, he said “over the years, Lagos has demonstrated enormous capacity to work together with you, the private sector, to create new value for the state and our citizens.”
He highlighted that: “Partnerships with the private sector in Lagos have delivered some of our most iconic projects – Banana Island, Eko Atlantic and many more new estates and suburbs.
“The revamp of infrastructure such as the Lekki-Epe Expressway which was first repaired in a globally celebrated PPP and is now being widened by us from four to 10 lanes, is again being done in partnership with the private sector.
“The Lekki Free Zone is 16,000 hectares being jointly developed in partnership with many domestic and international investors and has attracted over $2 billion in investment – with many multiples of that to come.
“Co-investments and partnerships have even in this short 2 years have enabled us to also close financing on our 2 rail lines that should come on stream by December 2022.
“It has also been used to complete several networks of roads including 13 roads in Iru-Victoria Island, establish a truck park to address the logistic challenge at Apapa and rapidly develop thousands of housing units to fill the enormous demand and need.”
On measures to improve enabling business environment, he said, “In return of course, for these investments, you require and expect a guarantee of reasonable returns. This is where, as a Government, we again come in: to create the enabling policies and overall environment for you to thrive in Lagos, for your investment to be safe and secure, and for innovation to thrive.”
He added that the Government would equally continue to improve on public transparency, fiscal discipline and debt sustainability.
“We know that these metrics are important and send an important signal to investors. Our performance in this regard has been reaffirmed by our recent Fitch International ratings upgrade to ‘AAA’ from ‘AA+(nga)’,” he said.
Also the event witnessed the launch of the Lagos Deal Book; a compendium of investment opportunities across the state as well as information about the incentives for making the investments and the processes for doing so.
The Governor encouraged all investors to take advantage of the rich information contained in the Deal Book, to guide and inform decision-making.
According to the Special Adviser to Governor Sanwo-Olu on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Investment, Solape Hammond, the roundtable was a part of shared aspiration towards making Lagos the most preferred investment destination in the world.
“It is an incontrovertible fact that Lagos derived its age-long excellence partly from the worthy contribution of private investment to its socio-economic development. Hence, the commitment towards creating a conducive atmosphere for private businesses to strive,” she said.
She said, “As carefully exemplified by Mr. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in his developmental agenda, T.H.E.M.E.S, the utmost goal is to make Lagos the most desirable investment destination in the world,” mentioning that the ability to attract investment remains the hallmark of healthy economies all over the world.
Noting that the current World Bank Index on Ease of Doing Business ranks Nigeria as number 131 out of a total 190 countries, moving up 15 places on the Index, she said this was simply affirming the status of Lagos State as Nigeria’s economic giant.
“Because, in assessing the ease of doing business in Nigeria, Lagos State alone constitutes 77% of the determinant factors,” she said.
“As Lagos maintained its status as a regional financial hub, the State has demonstrated the commitment to strengthen this position through deliberate policies aimed at improving the business climate and building investors’ confidence.
“The ongoing Barometer of Investment Survey being executed by our Office attest to the State’s determination to improve business and regulatory framework through the lens of our local and foreign investors,” she said.
Speaking on opportunities for investors, she said, “Behind the favourable investment climate of our state, is a vista of opportunities which abound in transportation, housing, tourism, power, ICT, health, education, environment, manufacturing, commerce, agriculture, among others.
“Accordingly, the following sectors of the economy are prioritized for inward and outward flow of investment: Energy and Mineral Resources, Agriculture, Transportation, Housing, Health, Tourism, Science and Technology, Commerce, Education, Environment and Tourism. You are all welcome on board as we take Lagos to new heights.
“To underscore the high premium that he places on driving investment into the State, Mr. Governor has thoughtfully strengthened the Office of Sustainable Development Goals and Investment (SDGs&I), as a one-stop-shop for all investment processes and procedures with a view to further enhance the ease of doing business in Lagos,” she said.
Stakeholders highlight opportunities
Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye while speaking on opportunities for investors on works, mentioned that demands for improvement in transport infrastructures hold huge opportunities for investors.
Among others, some of the projects she highlighted investors could invest in, include a by-pass road alternatives for commuters from the international airport, Ijede road project, constructions in the Lekki Free Trade Zone, the Fourth Mainland Bridge aimed to connect the Island and the Mainland.
On the recent Ikoyi 21-storey building collapse, Adeyoye said though the development may be seen as a disaster, yet it provides opportunities to sanitise and do things differently in the housing sector.
According to her, investors can take the chance to establish certified testing labs in all Local Government Areas across the State, while engineering firms could also leverage on investing in structures of flooding controls by partnering with the State government.
In his submission, Lagos State Commissioner for Transport, Dr. Frederick Oladeinde, hinted that with the N40million road trips expected in Lagos in 10 years which he said would be unsustainable, has informed the need for alternative measures.
According to him, investments in rail and waterways lie before investors to optimise within the framework of the Strategic Transport Master Plan of the State.
In her submission, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs Bisola Olusanya said with an estimated N7trillion food transaction value in Lagos, investors could look strategically into food production in the State.
Lamenting that contributions of agriculture to the Lagos GDP was very low, she said opportunities lie for investors in such areas as poultry, piggery, logistics, among other lines of productions in the value chain.
In his submission, the State’s Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi said within the State’s Medical Master Strategy, opportunities are open for investors to establish pure private capital venture or engage on public private partnership arrangement to address the deficits in the State.
He lamented that with about 300 primary healthcare, 28 General Hospitals, and two tertiary medical institutions in the State suffering from Infrastructure decay and neglect, as well as braindrain among young cadres of health professionals, the demands for private investment in the State has become necessary to fortify the 3,000 private healthcare facilities currently in the State.
Quoting statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics that about 70 percent of the State’s population would seek medical attention in private facilities, he mentioned that the State is ready to create enabling environment for private investments on full capacity for medical facilities, while the Government plays its regulatory role.
Chairman House Committee, Sustainable Development Goals and Investment, Hon. Sylvester Ogunkelu, said the enormous human resources of Lagos puts the State at a strategic position for sectoral growth and for business to thrive.