• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Ehingbeti 2021: Convergence of brains for the good of Lagos

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Lagos for decades has remained Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, attracting millions of people including non-Nigerians to settle in the state. The Lagos metropolitan area has a population estimated at 21.3 million, making it second largest metropolitan area in Africa after Cairo in Egypt, and, of course, a major financial centre on the continent.

The complexity of the megacity state requires a well-articulated plan that takes cognizance of its ever-growing population and the challenges that come with it. Such challenges are manifest in employment, infrastructure development, public transportation, housing, waste and traffic management, potable water, healthcare delivery, insecurity, quality education for children and youth, etc. While the government has a responsibility to frame appropriate policies and programmes to address these challenges, the role of the private sector can equally not be overemphasised; hence public-private partnership (PPP) has become a tool through which the growing needs of citizens of countries around the world are met.

The Lagos Economic Summit also known as Ehingbeti has over the years served as a vehicle that brings the government and private sector players to a roundtable for cross-fertilisation of ideas on how best to strengthen the economy of the state and make it work for all.

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Over the last 20 years, recommendations from Ehingbeti have helped the Lagos State government to redirect focus to areas of concerns to the citizens, investors, and businesses with positive results achieved. According to Sam Egube, Lagos commissioner for economic planning and budget, the state government has implemented 193 out of 206 resolutions from Ehingbeti since its inception.

“The fact that we are expanding activities on our waterways speaks to what Ehingbeti has been able to do. The Lagos Homes Ownership Scheme (LagosHOMS) also came out of Ehingbeti.”

Egube also pointed to the two Independent Power Projects at Akute, lighting up 242 streets in Lagos and the installation of 10,533 electricity poles covering a total area of 316km of street lighting as at 2014, as a product of the Ehingbeti summit.

It was through Ehingbeti that the state government initiated LPG cooking initiatives to persuade the people to choose clean energy as the preferred cooking fuel, while a lot of solar initiatives were in place in schools, some workplaces and in many parts of the communities.

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The state has also recorded successes in agriculture where 400 new farmers, graduates from the universities had emerged in that period and owned 350 hectares of land and their own homes built on their farm sites.

“The summit has a huge history and it’s now firmly established as a credible forum for stimulating economic growth in Lagos State,” Egube said.

As the summit resumes after a long break from 2014, private sector players who have always been key partners look forward to it with some excitement and expectations.

“The government should match manpower development with available needs to create room for employment” said Francis Meshioye, chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Ikeja branch at a recent stakeholders’ conference preparatory to the summit.

“There are many companies domiciled in Lagos. If the growth of industrialists is eroded, it will affect the economy and gross domestic product of the country at large. Lagos surely needs more industrial clusters to become the desired economic hub. There is, therefore, the need for the government to create viable links to channel goods from one cluster to another, said Meshioye.

For Ayoola Olukanni, the director-general, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), there is the need for the 2021 Ehingbeti Summit to focus on municipal solid waste.

He further observed that Lagos State was still struggling with waste management, which should be tackled. According to him, there is a national policy on waste management, waste to energy, and wealth, which is one of the areas the 2021 Ehingbeti and speakers should address.

As always the case, the 2021 Ehingbeti Summit is expected to live up to its repute as Africa’s most practical and result-oriented private sector-led forum for socio-economic and infrastructural development, with the quality of speakers confirmed to discuss at the virtual summit.

Themed “For a greater Lagos: Setting the tone for the next decade”, the 2021 Ehingbeti slated for February 16 to 18, is drawing array of speakers from across the globe to discuss and deliberate on pragmatic optimisation of the inherent opportunities in Africa’s 5th largest economy as well as offer perspectives on how to manage the peculiar socio-economic landscape of Lagos State in the coming decade.

The speakers will dissect various sub-themes during the summit, such as “4th industrial revolution: the imperatives and prospects for digital economy,” “destination Lagos: becoming the world’s best investment destination”, “Eko to the world: shaping the future of trade and economic independence”, “Lagos, the Industrial Hub”, “Made in Lagos: shaping the future of media, entertainment, culture and tourism”, “security, law and order, among others.

The speakers expected during the 3-day virtual summit include Mo Ibrahim, founder/chair of Mo Ibrahim Foundation; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Nigerian minister of finance; Akinwunmi Adesina, president, African Development Bank (ADB); Amina Mohammed UN deputy secretary-general and Mohammed Yahaya, UNDP resident representative.

Babatunde Fashola, minister of Works and Housing; Ben Akabueze, director-general, Budget Office of the Federation, while President Muhammadu Buhari, Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria will give goodwill messages.

The summit opening address will be delivered by the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, with Obafemi Hamzat, his deputy and Mudashiru Obasa, speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly leading the session on strengthening governance, institution and legislation.