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Economy, Government

…‘It’s Time To Create Youth-Focused Economy’ – AFDB President

Lagos State has set off an ambitious plan for its development over the next decade. By 2030, the State, which has the 5th largest economy in Africa, will have a running city-wide network of colour-coded Metro Lines that will move over 34.5 million people monthly and cut travel time in the metropolis drastically.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday, outlined key infrastructural deliverables being undertaken by the State at the 8th Lagos Economic Summit, otherwise known as Ehingbeti. The three-day event with the theme:  “Greater Lagos: Setting the Tone for the Next Decade”, is facilitated by the organised private sector in support by the State Government.

The summit is largely virtual, but some sessions are to be held physically at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island.

Ehingbeti Summit, co-chaired by chairman of Citi Bank, Mr. Yemi Cardoso, is an initiative introduced in 2000 as a biennial event aimed at creating a credible forum to discuss and formulate policies for accelerating infrastructural development and stimulating economic growth for Lagos.

The event was virtually attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, newly appointed Director General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and President of Africa Development Bank, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, and founder of Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim, among others.

Sanwo-Olu, in his address, disclosed that the race to digitise every community in Lagos had begun with the ongoing laying of 6,000-kilometre fibre optic infrastructure across the city, stressing that the Smart City agenda of the Government would fully materialise by 2030 when the entire landscape of Lagos would have been covered by a network of several thousands of kilometres of fibre optic carrying broadband internet into all homes, offices and schools.

The move, the Governor said, is to leverage technology to revolutionise business culture in Lagos by energising Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that form the backbone of the State economy.

He said: “I invite every well-meaning Nigerian to join me to look ahead at the next decade, and the possibilities that lie ahead for Lagos. What will Lagos State look like by 2030? There will be a city-wide network of colour-coded Metro Lines, the first two of which – Red and Blue lines – will move over 34.5 million people monthly, cutting travel time by over 250 per cent. In 2030, Lagos will proudly stand beside every other megacity in the world, in terms of its capacity to transport its people efficiently and responsively.

“Water transportation infrastructure being put in place will make waterway transport systems a central element of life in the metropolis. The Fourth Mainland Bridge will come to define the cityscape of the 2020s in the same way the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge defined it a decade earlier. By 2030, Lagos will be a Smart City, fully covered by a network of several thousands of kilometers of fibre optic infrastructure that will carry broadband internet into homes, offices and schools

“The Smart City that is unfolding will also be home to a network of intelligent cameras that will support not only security and policing across the State, but also traffic management and data collection for urban planning. By 2030, Lagos will be home to one of the largest Rice Mills in the world, after we deliver our 32 metric tons per hour rice factory in Imota, which will produce 2.8 million bags of 50kg bags of rice per annum.”

The Governor said the implementation of the plan would not only create millions of direct jobs for skilled youths, it would also empower women, who own substantial MSMEs in Lagos.

Sanwo-Olu said plans were underway in Lagos to reverse the tide of billions lost nationally to medical tourism. He disclosed that Lagos was pushing ahead with a move to develop a Medical Park in Ikoyi in partnership with the private sector, which is expected to offer world-class medical and diagnostic services.

He said his administration’s development blueprint, known as Project THEMES, was designed to build on the achievements of previous administrations and lay foundations for future growth.

Sanwo-Olu, having reviewed the progress recorded within the past decade, said there was so much to be celebrated in the State, but added that so much was needed to be done in expanding the frontiers of growth in Lagos.

President Muhammadu Buhari pledged the Federal Government would continue to bring massive investments into Lagos in order to boost the State’s economic potential as one of the world’s fastest growing megacities.

The President said Lagos had demonstrated how understanding between national and subnational governments could be leveraged for accelerated growth, alluding to concession granted the State Government to rebuild the federal highway leading to Murtala International Airport in Ikeja.

Buhari said: “The Federal Government is today completing the Standard Gauge Railway Line that links Lagos to Ibadan in the first instance, and from there connects to Abuja and Kano, and brings ease and efficiency to what is Nigeria’s busiest transportation corridor.

“Just last month, this new Rail Line achieved a milestone extension into the Port Complex in Apapa, setting the stage for a long overdue decongestion in that area.”

The WTO Director General made a case for the creation of massive industrial hubs to harness the potential of the youth and women in artificial intelligence and digital economy.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala commended the Lagos Government’s action to build digital infrastructure around the city, noting that the fibre optic programme makes the State a new manufacturing hub of digital products that will shape the global economy in the next decade.

On his part, Dr. Adesina believed the increasing youth population in Lagos must not be seen as a problem, but rather as an asset that should be harnessed for growth.

The Africa apex bank chief said it was time for the State Government to create a youth based economy that specifically targets skilled young population. He applauded Lagos’ Digital Skill Empowerment for the youth, and the rollout of broadband Internet infrastructure across the State.

“The future of Lagos must be knowledge based and the State Government must sustain its investment in education to produce knowledgeable, skilled young people for the jobs of the future,” the AFDB President said.

The event also featured discussion panel sessions that focused on how Lagos could harness its human capital to accelerate its development and bring the State closer to developed mega cities.

Ehingbeti Summit has led Lagos, in the last two decades, to achieve the delivery of five Independent Power Projects (IPPs) on the Mainland and Island. Other notable infrastructure conceived from the summit include Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge, Pen Cinema Bridge, Agric Isawo Road, International Airport Road, opening of Regional Road and rehabilitation of Ibeju Lekki-Epe road network, among others.

Economy, Government

Nigeria’s Senate has urged the Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs in conjunction with other relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies to develop strategic framework for the promotion of the establishment and development of cottage industries in all the 774 LGAs of the country.

The call was made on Tuesday after the Upper Chamber considered a motion on the need to create job opportunities, reduce poverty and rural-urban drift.

Sponsor of the motion, Senator Degi-Eremienyo, W. Biobarakuma (APC – Bayelsa East), in his presentation, noted the dearth of cottage industries in rural communities and the critical role it plays in the provision of large employment opportunities.

According to him, over 60 percent of the labour force in the country is engaged either in the formal or informal sectors.

He stressed that with the current global pandemic ravaging the world and its attendant negative impact on the economy, the need for cottage industries to help in stimulating the economy cannot be over-emphasized.

The lawmaker noted that such smaIl-scale industries often operate out of home, rather than purpose-built facilities and often focus on the production of labour-intensive goods.

Biobarakuma expressed worry that the dearth of cottage industries brings with it the attendant increase in the rate of migration from rural to urban areas in the quest for source of livelihood and greener pastures, saying, “this massive rural-urban drift has led to deplorable working/living conditions and pollution, child labour and acute food shortages.

According to the lawmaker, “the establishment and development of cottage industries will not only help in the reduction of ruxal-urban drift, but also serve as a veritable avenue for the creation of enormous job opportunities for our teeming youths, in line with the Presidential Poverty Reduction Initiative (PPRI) and Mr. President’s special works program which is aimed at cushioning the effects of economic downturn, especially caused by the corona virus pandemic.”

He noted further that “many modern cottage industries serve as a market that seeks out original handcrafted products as Opposed to mass-produced, name branded products and can include anything from clothing items and crafts to decorative home furnishings; develop as feeders for raw materials or support services to the main industrial complexes and will harness multi-sector opportunities for empowerment and poverty alleviation within the economic corridors of the 774 LGAs of the country.”

Biobarakuma emphasized that developing countries such as Nigeria have a comparative advantage in the use of labour compared to the use of capital, thereby allowing the country to produce labour-intensive goods more cheaply than developed countries.

“As such, under suitable atmosphere, cottage industries can allow local residents to come together to produce crafts for sale in local markets or even for export to larger cities and other countries, thereby boosting our foreign exchange,” the lawmaker said.

He recalled that in the President’s Democracy Day speech of June 12, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari announced that he had directed the employment of 774,000 Nigerians who will be engaged in Special Public Works Programme aimed at cushioning the effects of economic downturn.

“There is no doubt that it is only when government is consciously and strategically involved in the equitable promotion of the establishment and sustainable development of cottage industries that can guarantee impactful fruition of government’s efforts in this regard.

“Indeed there is no gainsaying the fact that cottage industries remain the special purpose vehicle for the lifting

of millions of Nigerians out of poverty,” he added.

Accordingly, the Senate in its resolutions urged the Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs in conjunction with other relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies to develop strategic framework for the promotion of the establishment and development of cottage industries in all the 774 LGAs of

the country.

The Upper Chamber also directed its Committee on Special duties to ensure aggressive oversight in the implementation of the Federal Government funded policies and programmes in this direction.