At UNGA, Sanwo-Olu Woos Foreign Investors to Lagos, Says State Safest in Nigeria
•Declares state’s GDP up by $5 billion to about $145,141 billion, budget doubles to about N1.7 trillion
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, currently attending the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, yesterday, told foreign investors to consider his state as their choice investment destination.
Sanwo-Olu reeled off his administration’s achievements in the past three years to try to woo investors to the state.
According to a statement, the governor met a group of would-be investors in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA, at a roundtable organised by the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) at Park Lane Hotel in the heart of the city.
The governor spoke of the major strides Lagos State had made in the past three years, despite COVID-19.
He used the THEMES Agenda – the six-pillar development plan of his administration – as a guide.
According to the governor, the state’s GDP has gone up by $5 billion to about $145,141 billion; and its budget has doubled to about N1.7 trillion.
He added that infrastructural development in the state had been tremendous.
Sanwo-Olu cited landmark developments in transportation, the first pillar of THEMES, saying the Red Line and Blue Line rail projects would be commissioned by the end of the year.
The rolling stocks for the Red Line, which his administration started, he said, were on the way to Lagos and work was going on as scheduled on the stations and the overpasses that would ensure a good transportation experience.
There are about four other lines to be built for the state to be covered by rail so as to ease the pressure on roads.
“Sanwo-Olu minced no words on the purpose of the meeting – to attract more investors to Lagos, which has 80 per cent of Foreign Direct Investments coming into Nigeria,” the statement added.
The statement said the governor also spoke on opportunities in water transportation, saying from seven ferries, the state’s fleet has risen to 21, besides many others run by private operators.
Investors could double the fleet, Sanwo-Olu said.
He said most of the 15 jetties being built by the state were ready for commissioning, stressing that the aim is to have an integrated urban transportation system. This would be strengthened by a strategic road infrastructure, such as the Lekki-Epe Expressway and the Fourth Mainland Bridge, which had attracted many investors, from which one will be chosen before the end of the year, the governor disclosed.
He revealed plans by the state to build an Infectious Diseases Research Centre to tackle health challenges, such as COVID-19.
He said over 1000 school projects had been completed and “we have introduced technology to make teaching and learning an exciting experience.
“We are seeing the results. We used to have about 36 per cent pass in School Certificate Examinations; now we have about 80 per cent.”
The governor added, “We are opening brand new schools and introducing technology by giving teachers tablets to aid their job.”
He spoke on the 6,000-kilometre fibre optic cable being laid around the state, saying the first phase of 3,000 kilometres was almost completed.
The aim is to aid faster and cheaper Internet connectivity, thereby boosting service in hospitals and schools, besides boosting the impressive activities of the youth in the tech ecosystem, he said.
Sanwo-Olu described Lagos as the, “Entertainment capital of Africa.”
He cited the recent Headies Awards in Atlanta and added that a Film Village was on the way.
He mentioned opportunities in housing and assured would-be investors of “the sanctity of contracts”, with the state appointing new judges to aid smooth the operations of the judiciary.
On security, Sanwo-Olu described Lagos as, “The safest state in Nigeria.”
He said small businesses were being supported with grants, and the youth and women were being encouraged.
The governor also spoke about challenges, such as refuse disposal. He said about 4000 metric tons of refuse were generated in the state daily. This, in his view, should attract investors willing to turn the waste to wealth.
He also talked about challenges in water, power and other sectors.
Responding, Managing Director (Africa) of McLARTY Associates, Amb. (ret.) Terence P. McCulley, praised Sanwo-Olu for an insightful account of his administration’s policies and projects. McCulley said many “people who have returned from Lagos have spoken of how they no longer recognise the state because of the developments taking place there.”
He added, “You can be the ambassador of the private sector to the federal government, providing an enabling environment for manufacturing, agriculture and technology, which are drivers of diversification.”