*Lagos Offers Hope For Nigeria – Utomi
Akinwunmi Ambode, the Lagos State governor, has reeled out numerous investment opportunities that abound in the state to would-be investors in critical sectors such as power, agriculture, transportation, health, tourism, housing, ICT and manufacturing.
Ambode, who spoke in Lagos at the formal unveiling of the Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment, otherwise known as Lagos Global, assured that the state was open more than ever before for greater business.
He said that in anticipation of the increased socio-economic activities, his administration has resolved to prioritise the achievement of the four pillars of the Lagos State Development Plan (2012-2015), which were economic development, infrastructural development, social development and security, and sustainable environment.
Ambode’s assurance came just as Professor Pat Utomi, a renowned development economist and social crusader, said that the creation of Lagos Global was a major step towards transforming the state to modern city-state just like the advanced ones in the world.
The Lagos Global, which is an initiative of the Ambode administration, is a one-stop shop designed to encourage ease of doing business and help to turn Lagos into Africa’s model megacity and global economic and financial hub that is safe, secure, functional and productive.
Ambode, who was represented at the unveiling by Mr. Tunji Bello, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), said that the efforts put in place so far have ensured that the state remained the desired business hub having attracted massive Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) such as the $1.65 billion Lekki Deep Seaport.
He assured that the seaport would be completed in 2019 and upon completion would be the deepest seaport in Sub-Saharan Africa, adding that the Badagry Creek Industrial Park, a $1.3 billion investment meant for completion in 2018 and the $12 billion Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Park were among other investments coming to the state.
The governor recalled his inaugural speech on May 29, 2015, where he stated that the commitment of his administration was to make Lagos an investment destination of choice by creating a favourable environment for local and foreign direct investment.
He said: “As the world continues to acknowledge Lagos as a regional financial hub, we as government have demonstrated the commitment to strengthen this position through deliberate policies aimed at improving the business climate in our state.
“In this regard, we have successfully placed Lagos on investors’ radar by putting in place effective legal and regulatory frameworks such as the Land Reform Act, Double Taxation Treaties, Limited Liability Reviews and the development of Free Trade Zones. Likewise, the on-going judicial reform is aimed at strengthening our laws for the protection of enterprise.
“Similarly, the conscious efforts of our administration at public infrastructure development and maintenance as indicated by an efficient Bus Rapid Transit(BRT), transporting over 200,000 passengers daily, functional Integrated Power Projects, enhanced security and access roads to sea and airports, among others, have underscored our determination to make Lagos a functional megacity,” Governor Ambode said.
Professor Ademola Abass, Special Adviser to the Governor on Overseas Affairs and Investment, in his welcome address, said the office was created by the current administration to act as one-stop shop with the mandate of promoting foreign investment into the state and managing export of the state.
Professor Utomi in his keynote address said that Lagos economy must be a 24/7 economy, and that the growth of the state requires significant co-operation from neighbouring states.
Utomi said Lagos offers hope for rapid growth of the country in the sense that it has the capacity to serve as the yard-stick to measure and encourage development, but that there has to be a concerted effort to make the state a more attractive idea of a developed state, and that there must be a well done plan to round off everything that Lagos represents in terms of possibilities through a branding process.