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Lagos partners Nordic countries on smart city plan

The Lagos state government is for the first time partnering with Nordic Countries- Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark to provide smart city solutions that will enable a circular economy in the state.

Babatunde Sanwo-Olu, Governor of the state, in a speech at a conference themed “Smart City Solutions and Circular Economy” which was held at Eko hotels and suites said the government was seeking opportunities for cooperation on issues of environment, waste management, clean energy, green transport and sustainable financing.

Sanwo-Olu said his administration’s governing agenda for Lagos, known as the T.H.E.M.E.S. prioritises “21st century” thinking. The ‘M’ in THEMES stands for Making Lagos A 21st Century Megacity, while the first E represents Education — and Technology, which are the key requirement for the evolution of a “Smart” City.”

Making a case for why Lagos deserves the status, the governor said Lagos occupies 0.4 percent of Nigeria’s total landmass but is home to over 10 percent of the country’s population and more populous than all the Nordic countries combined. Lagos also generates 13,000 metric tonnes of solid waste and is a coastal city at the mercy of rising oceans.

According to him, “Following the huge investments we have made in the waste management sector, as well as the transformation of our waste management practices over the last two years, we have been able to create no fewer than 41 ,OOO direct and indirect jobs in that period of time.”

Read Also: Sanwo-Olu says Ecobank Pan African Centre will enhance Lagos smart city project

With the advent of recycling and other waste management streams, we envisage there will be about 6,000 additional jobs being created annually, he further said.

The governor however said the state was developing strategies to combat the challenges including making the largest ever investment in the waste management agency to support private sector waste managers to build new transfer loading stations, ramping up awareness programmes on proper waste management, laying fiber-optic cables across the state and providing financing for the states research and innovation council.

At the request of the Lagos state government, the United Nations Development Programme has conducted an assessment of Lagos State’s smart cities capabilities and has drafted a roadmap for Lagos to become “the most investable smart city”.

The UNDP roadmap is hinged on three foundations: public- private partnerships, smart infrastructure and data-enabled workforce.

While public-private partnerships are a regular feature in Lagos, the partnerships are disjointed and uncoordinated, the UNDP found. The roadmap will therefore seek to attract innovators to help address public problems and catalyse growth. It will also train Lagos residents in digital, coding and entrepreneurial skills.

The smart infrastructure component aims to deliver high quality, affordable connectivity to leverage growing usage of smartphones and digital payments apps that will boost a digital economy. This will create a state-wide mobile broadband plan and network performance monitoring.

Under the data-enabled workforce aspect, leaders in Lagos would draw on spatio-temporal and other data to be more resilient, productive and responsive to citizens’ needs. This will lead to an Open Lagos Data Portal to store and share data across agencies with the public with data managers across government departments.

Mohammed Yahya, the UNDP resident representative who spoke on the possibilities said in “10‐ 15 years, if you come back again, you will see a completely different Lagos. From a development side, we could not be more enthusiastic and bullish about this.”

Tony Elemulu, chairman of The Tony Elumelu Foundation in his remarks, commended the state government for what it is and counselled that the government should continue to create a more enabling environment for young entrepreneurs to succeed. He also commended the Nordic countries for this step taken while sounding hopeful for when Africa would be able to finance its own sustainability.

Representatives from the Nordic countries in their speeches extolled the efforts of the Lagos state government to deal with the myriads of challenges facing the state and said they were willing to supply the state.

In attendance at the event were the Under-Secretary of State for International Trade, Finland, Nina Vaskunlahti, while others including Anniken Huitfeldt, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway, Krister Nilsson, State Secretary for Foreign Trade and Nordic Affairs, Sweden, Steen Hommel, State Secretary for Trade and Global Sustainability, Denmark, who presented their speeches by video.

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