Lagos State Government over the weekend unveiled plans for the 6th Lagos Economic Summit, also known as EHINGBETI 2012. This came as government declared it has implemented over 100 resolutions reached at past editions of the Summit as clear evidence of the resolve on the part of government to see that the Summit is not just another talk shop held biennially.
Speaking at a Media Networking Session at the weekend at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning & Budget who doubles as Chairman of the Lagos Economic Summit Group, Mr. Ben Akabueze noted that while the first three editions of the Summit were largely diagnostic in approach dedicated to trying to analyse the problems, understand the challenges and what needed to be done, government shifted attention as from the fourth edition towards implementations.
“Today, I can stand before you and tell you with all sense of responsibility that we have implemented over 100 of the 119 resolutions so far reached at past editions of Ehingbeti Summits. Those that have not been implemented or are on-going are those that require other partners like the Federal Government. This is why we feel confident to invite Nigerians and indeed the International Investment Community to yet another Ehingbeti where your time and resources would be worth your while going by the seriousness we attached to the Summit.”
He also gave examples of the Bus Rapid Transport System (BRT), the Akute IPP, Lagos Island IPP, the on-going Lagos Light Rail System and the pattern of road designs with pedestrian walk ways as examples of key decisions reached at past Ehingbeti Summits.
Ben Akabueze who also unveiled the theme of the 2012 edition of the Summit, “From BRICS to BRINCS: Lagos Holds the Key,” explained that in the aspiration of Nigeria to join the league of the fast-growing BRICS economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which will now change the acronym to BRINCS (including Nigeria), Lagos as the nation’s economic capital with vast potentials and investment opportunities will play a central role. It is within this context and the place of Lagos as Nigeria’s economic capital that this edition of the Summit will examine the economic potentials of Lagos.
He noted that, Lagos is undeniably the economic nerve centre of the country hence it is referred to as the economic capital of the country. “Lagos consumes about 45% of the petroleum products in the country. This shows the high level of commercial activities in the State. On the average, 40% of bank branches are in Lagos because of the high level of business activities here. Over 40% of the telecoms subscriber base is here in Lagos. Two seaports in Lagos accounts for 70% sea trade in the country. The two electricity distribution companies Eko and Ikeja Districts account for 50% of PHCN’s transmission power. About 80% of International air travel arrive in and depart from Lagos. All these point to Lagos as the economic nerve centre of the country. So, if Nigeria is being rated as one of the major players in the emerging markets, then you will agree with us that Lagos holds the key,” Akabueze said.
He further explained that, in spite of all that Lagos contributes to the Nigerian economy, there is still a lot to be brought out in terms of the economic potentials of the State. “But it would take ideas, relationships and investment to unlock these potentials,” Akabueze noted.
Also speaking at the Media Session, Economic Analyst and Public Affairs Commentator, Opeyemi Agbaje noted that this is a moment of opportunity for Nigeria as an emerging economy saying, “at the moment Europe is back to recession but the emerging economics (BRICS) are growing at about 7 %– 8%. Interestingly Nigeria is also growing at about 7%. Lagos is not an oil producing State but because of its commercial and financial strength it dominates in other sectors like telecoms, law, medicine, architecture, engineering, transportation, power, insurance, capital market, media, entertainment, education and more. Lagos is a private sector driven economy. Growth in Lagos would have spiral effect on Nigeria as a whole. Lagos has the lowest level of unemployment in Nigeria at 7% compared to some States that has as much as 40%.”
Speaking in the same vein at the event, an Investment Banker and Managing Director, BGL Investment Banking Ltd, Mr. Wale Oluwo explained that what has helped Lagos has been continuity and innovative thinking on the part of those managing the affairs of the State. He noted that Lagos was the first State in Nigeria to come to the Capital Market to raise funds to finance infrastructure renewal efforts. He challenged the State Government to also inspire those managing the Local Governments to begin to think creatively. He reminded the audience that “the first time any Local Government Council in Nigeria came to the Capital Market to raise funds for project development was when the Lagos Island Local Government approached the Capital Market to raise funds for the building of the Sura Market in Lagos Island. This is how to activate relationships between the public and private sector by different tiers of government,” Oluwo said.
The 2012 edition of Ehingbeti which will have Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) as Chief Host is to focus on Power, Agriculture, Transportation and Housing, the four key sectors which the organisers have coined into the acronym PATH.
Keys Speakers at the Summit will include Ms. Razia Khan, Vice President, Standard Chartered, African Region globally acknowledged as the leading analyst on African economies, Mr. Bill Richardson, Former US Secretary for Energy and two term Governor of New Mexico, USA, Mr. Bisi Onasanya, Managing Director of First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Mr. Peter Stevenson, Investment Adviser & Former Director, UK Trade Investment Department, Nigeria, Mr. Bolaji Osunsanya, MD Oando Oil and Gas Company Ltd, Dr. Sam Amadi, Executive Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Prof. Banji Oyelaran Oyeyinka, Director, UN HABITAT, Mr. Kunle Elebute, Partner, KPMG Professional Services, Mr. Solomon Adegbie-Quaynor, Country Manager, International Financial Corporation, Mr. Danladi Verheijen, Managing Director, Eko Rail, Dr. Rotimi Fashola, Lead Consultant, Lagos State Rice Project
SPECIAL ADVISER TO H.E ON MEDIA