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EHINGBETI 2021: Lagos State Economic Summit Kicks Off – Day 1

Tunbosun Oyinloye

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The 8th edition of the Lagos State Economic Summit – EHINGBETI 2021 is here, and while this year’s own has been scheduled to hold virtually, it will run from Today, through Thursday, 18th of February.

The annual Lagos State Economic Summit, popularly called EHINGBETI started out as an annual summit in 2000, and then bi-annual in 2008 until 2014 when it was last hosted.

These periodic changes were to give sufficient time for the State Government to respond to its commitments during the previous summits while ensuring that they are well implemented.

Currently, the economic summit is now firmly established as a credible forum for the stimulation of economic growth in Lagos State.

Hosted by Mojibade Sosanya, and Ali baba, this year’s event kicked off at exactly 9:30 AM with special recognition of prominent attendees from different destinations and works of life.

Mr. Yemi Cardoso sets the summit in motion with a welcome address

Mr. Yemi Cardoso, Chairman, board of director, Citibank set the event in motion with a welcome address.

He acknowledged the presence of the State Governor and his Deputy – Governor Babajide Sanwolu and Dep. Gov. Femi  Hamzat.

EHINGBETI 2021: Lagos State Economic Summit Kicks Off - Day 1

L-R: EHINGBETI committe Chairperson, Mr. Yemi Cardoso, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Deputy Governor, Mr. Obafemi Hamzat

He went further to commend Mr. Governor for reinstating the bi-annual summit that was put on hold back in 2014

According to Mr. Cardoso, “one of the highlight resolutions of the past Ehingbeti is the setting up of the Ministry of Economic and budget planning.”

This has according to the chairman has made the process of wealth management in the State more transparent.

He further acknowledged the growth in Lagos GD; a significant impact of some of the implemented resolutions from the past EHINGBETI.

“Lagos has seen an appreciable development over the past 10 years. In 2010, Lagos had a GDP of N12.091 trillion and 10 years later, the economy of Lagos has grown to surpass N13 trillion GDP.”

“Lagos contribute more than 30% of the Nigeria GDP; this implies that a significant percentage of Nigeria’s success is largely dependent on that of Lagos State.”

“Lagos is a megacity and must begin to operate as such, however, this will come on the hill of a sustainable collaboration from both public and private stakeholders.”

“whatever challenges will face while trying to achieve the Lagos of our dream; giving up is not an option.”

Mr. Chairman also talked largely about housing challenges in Lagos State and called that real estate investors should work closely with the state government on the best approach to solve most of the housing challenges.

Mr. Cardoso concluded his remark by admonishing all participants to key into the event and make the best out of it.

Lagos State Governor’s welcome address

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in his welcome address, shared what could be described as an overview of Lagos Vision.

First, he acknowledged that the summit is a forum where all stakeholders in and outside of Lagos meet to exchange ideas.

Mr. Sanwo-Olu also added that the summit allows participants to address potential developmental roadblocks and chart a path forward towards accelerating sustainable economic growth in Lagos State.

EHINGBETI 2021: Lagos State Economic Summit Kicks Off - Day 1

Nigeria News: Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu

He mentioned that the event was initially scheduled to hold towards the end of 2020, however, was disrupted by the  EndSARS protest.

More reason for rescheduling the event according to Mr. Governor is to have conversations and constructive
engagement with stakeholders in the Lagos project, including youth whose voices must be heard.

“We wanted to take lessons from the unfortunate incident of 20 October 2020 – #ENDSARS – and together build
back better. As a government, we are taking great care to address the concerns of all our citizens.”

That said, the governor went ahead to talk about some of the progress that the State has made so far, and buttressed on what more can be achieved even with the establishment of such a platform like Ehingbeti.

According to Mr. Governor. Lagos is the financial and industrial hub of Nigeria, contributing approximately 25% of Nigeria’s total GDP despite having the smallest landmass.

“Lagos has the smallest landmass for a State in Nigeria, however, this will not be nurtured as a challenge.”

He also talked about some ongoing development that is set to drive the massive economic growth in the State.

“Upon completion, Lekki deep sea port will become one of the largest in the West African region.”

Mr. Sanwolu also buttressed on the potential that lurks within the Lagos tourist sector and looks forward to maximize the potentials therein.

Also, the State is looking toward revitalizing its health sector to lay a global standard not only for the state but also Nigeria at large.

Mr. Governor wants to make Lagos State a true 21st century State, as well as position it as a highly-competitive economic destination.

Finally, To make Lagos great and actualize its vision, Mr.Governor said that the State has devised the Lagos T.H.E.M.E.S, an acronym that represents the six strategic pillars of development namely Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology.

These T.H.E.M.E.S according to the State Governor will further allow the State to achieve a true 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism as well as Security and Governance.

He concluded with his optimistic stance of seeing the state achieve its dream of becoming a mega city.

“Igbega ipinle eko, ajumoshe ni – (the success of Lagos State is a collective one to achieve)” he added in conclusion.

President Buhari’s welcome address

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, also joined the summit virtually.

In his address, Mr. president commended the State for its consistency in ensuring that it stays relevant in its sustainable economic pursuit.

EHINGBETI 2021: Lagos State Economic Summit Kicks Off - Day 1

President of the Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari

He further addressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the State, being the epicenter across the federation.

The president said the federal government is playing its part to ease off the burden that comes with the unprecedented viral outbreak.

According to Buhari,  federal funding has been approved in 2020 in acknowledgment of the State being an epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He further added that “the challenges of Lagos must be clearly seen as that of Nigeria and as such the federal government will support Lagos to overcome its challenges and to thrive socially and economically.”

Speaking further, Mr. President buttressed how it has played a significant role in some vital development that is ongoing in the state.

He mentioned that a Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) has been set up to cater for the reconstruction of prominent routes within the state including that of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

Also, the ongoing reconstruction of the Apapa-Oshodi and Oworoshonki expressway marks a flagship project of the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit (RITC) scheme of 2019.

Similarly, Mr. President lauded the fact that his administration “granted the approval for Lagos State Government to rebuild the International Airport Road – a major road that links to the busiest airport in Sub-Saharan Africa, bringing efficiency to the continent fixed largest economy.”

Buhari also lauded the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan gauge rail line with a promise to connect the rail line to Abuja and Kano.

Furthermore, the President reaffirmed that it has “granted approval for the temporary transfer of the National Theater to the Bankers’ committee who will invest in upgrading it and developing it to a world-class creative hub, which upon completion will largely benefit the Lagos populace.”

Mr. President also claimed that there are various other initiatives of the federal government that are being implemented in Lagos; from the National and social investment program to the energizing economic program i.e The economic sustainability program and others.

His Excellency later commended the state government for its partnership and collaboration with the federal government.

Overall, Mr. president acknowledged the fact that Lagos boasts of a forward-looking administration focused on infrastructure and the ease of doing business as well as the overall quality of life of all Lagosians.

Newly-elected WTO DG, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Addresses Youth Employability

Barely 24 hours after her induction as the new Director General of World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala addresses a wide range of shortcomings in Lagos State to be fixed.

This plenary session of the ongoing Lagos State Economic Summit – EHINGBETI 2021, features a discuss between the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-olo , and the newly-elected WTO DG.

EHINGBETI 2021: Lagos State Economic Summit Kicks Off - Day 1

UGC: Newly-elected WTO DG, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in a session with Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu

With Mr.Governor being the  moderator, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was asked spectacular questions on how the best approach to move Lagos State forward.

“Finally coming out as the new DG of WTO, how has it been; how has the journey been so far?” Mr. Governor asked passionately after dishing a brief congratulatory note.

In her response, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala responded by firstly, acknowledging the fact that she remains a citizen and is part of the ongoing development.

She further thanked every Nigerian including Mr. President who have supported and encouraged her all through the  period of waiting in uncertainty to be officially elected.

Also, Dr. Okonjo-Iwela is very optimistic about the outcome of her tenure which according to her will be very challenging, however,  opportunity-driven.

She is also claimed she is ready to face the challenges as they come, while the organization look out for what can be done in every country around the world.

“Talking about creating job, Africa has not done a great job yet, as it is mostly work-in-progress; now looking back and forward, what will a successful Africa look like, and where do you think Lagos can sit considering it is the  economic hub of Nigeria?” Mr. Governor asked.

To respond to this, Dr. Okojo-Iweala said that the most important thing a successful Africa should look at is the Demographics.

“Where you have about 60% or more of your population to be 30-years or younger, then you have to worry more about job creation.”

“A successful Africa or Lagos is one that is able to create job for her citizens, and by that, I mean decent digitized jobs. Doing otherwise will lead to socio-dislocation and unrest amongst the youth.”

She also added that the State must concentrate her mind on the continent, especially on how to create modern and decent jobs for the young population.

Speaking further, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala mentioned that Lagos State inasmuch as its success so far is still  experiencing a raw material stage kind of economy.

By that she means the State like most part of African still export raw material including Agricultural material, mineral resources among others for manufacture.

Although, Lagos is still ahead when it comes to manufacturing, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said there is more to be done, and even in Africa generally.

“We have to get up from the position where we export raw materials to the one where we are adding more value, and processing.”

“For Lagos and Nigeria, and the continent as a whole; we need to ask the big question of how can we industrialize  Africa?”

On how to achieve this, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala sighted some economic instances that proffers opportunity to tap into as a state.

Firstly, she said Africa import more than 90% of its pharmaceutical products that is used across the continent; manufacturing some of these product would bridge a major gap in the State economy.

“We have a market of 1.3 billion people in Africa, and with the new Africa Continental Free trade Agreement that is under implementation; Lagos and Nigeria as a whole can leverage on the common market – free boarders that actually works.”

“There are so many exciting opportunity of what Lagos State, Nigeria, and Africa as a whole can do, and of course, putting in mind who we are doing it for – the youths.”

Looking forward to the next 10 years and seeking for a State that is very audacious, Mr. Governor asked Dr. Okonjo-Iweala for the ” kind of advice and impute that can specifically help Lagos State achieve its mega city dream?”

“The future is changing and very dynamic; the future is Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and its here to stay…it’s either Lagos, and by extension Nigeria and Africa gets onboard or we are left behind.”

She further buttressed on the importance of broadband access which will become an enabler of the job of the future, adding that the biggest challenge here is infrastructure.

“Apart from telecommunication infrastructure, other things that the state must put into consideration is a stable power supply among other infrastructures.”

“To achieve a Lagos of the future , infrastructure is very essential, especially considering her vastly growing population.”

In addition, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala buttressed on the importance of e-commerce; according to her, the fast-pacing industrial revolution is here to stay.

“the amount of e-commerce transaction that is ongoing in the US alone is over $500 billion with a net gain to the US of over $200 billion, further showing the potential lurked in the industry.”

“How can we tap into that digital economy? The reason why i’m excited about this as well as looking into negotiating an e-commerce agreement at the WTO is because Nigeria among others can benefit, considering that its is vastly made up of SMEs.”

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala further calls for the support of Venture Capitals; according to her, they will help encourage some of these businesses.

“What kind of broad advice do you have for Lagos to have a seemingly gender balance and youth participation?” Mr.. Governor asked in conclusion.

Firstly, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala commended Nigeria women and by extension African women, especially for their ability to multi-task, managing their careers, establishment and family simultaneously.

However, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala claimed it is rather important to give these set of people and the youths a even bigger platform to function.

She made reference to her new book -Women and Leadership – co-authored by Julia Gillard, the former Prime Minister of Australia.

The book, according to Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, discuss what women must do to break into leadership.

She further gave statistics on why she wrote the book; according to her, the Unite Nation have 193 members, however, only 57 of them have ever had women leader at one point or the other.

Currently there are about 14 to 15 women leaders across the globe, something that would be considered progress if compared to four in year 2000.

However, at this pace of growth, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala believes that it will take decades to actually achieve gender parity in terms of women leadership.

She also gave an instance of Nobel prizes that started out in the early 20th centuries; according to her only 53 of 900 noble prizes have been awarded to women.

Also, in the parliament all over the world, 1 of 4 parliamentarian are women; 21% of Cabinet globally are women; same for other career paths.

In reaching a conclusion, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala says there are a lot of things women can do, but first, “the men have to decide to empower women.”

“Unless the men agree to empower women, and give a chance; we aren’t going to get there…we have got to have dialogue with men,” She added.

She also implore Mr. Governor to discuss with his co-governors and persuade them to do more in empowering women.

In his response, Mr. Governor highlight the effort that has been put into ensuring gender equality within the State government level. However, declares that the State intends to do more of to further ensure a gender-balance State.

PS: This event is live, and as such, this publication will be updated at intervals.

Oyinloye Bosun is a writer at Techuncode. Although not a gadget freak, he has a keen interest in familiarizing himself with every technology product - software or hardware. He also loves to arm himself with the knowledge of tech activities/events taking place both on the Local and International scenes. The provision of the above has pushed him to choose writing as a profession. Wondering if he has a hubby? Yes! He loves streaming tech-related podcasts in his spare time.

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