From John Silas, Lagos
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday, said the State is set to harness the potential of its landmass and face challenges headlong with innovative solutions as a 21st Century Mega City.
He said with a landmass of less than 0.4 percent, the Lagos State Government was ready and open for collaboration investments from willing partners as well as the political will to address issues on climate change.
Governor Sanwo-Olu made the statement while speaking at the Nordic – Nigeria Connect Smart City Lagos 2021, a high-power conference on Smart City solutions and circular economy themed: “Developing a Greener Lagos” held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island on Tuesday.
The Nordic countries include Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
Governor Sanwo-Olu assured foreign partners, especially investors from the Nordic countries that Lagos is ready and open for collaboration for investments from willing partners, noting that Lagos has taken steps to improve ease of doing business.
He said issues on the agenda for the conference “are of considerable importance to our planet, especially as we ramp up efforts to forge lasting consensus on tackling climate change,” adding that the timing of the conference could not be more perfect, in the immediate aftermath of COP26.
“Lagos is open for collaboration and investment. We have the talent and expertise. We have the financial markets. We have the demographics to support your business cases and plans. We have massive opportunities for the rollout of low-carbon infrastructure and solutions, and we have the political will, as a government, to ensure that your ideas and investments take root and thrive.
“We are delighted that many of the investors we are seeing in Lagos are deeply committed to projects that advance the desired goals of climate resilience and environmental friendliness, while also making great business sense and meeting the practical needs of the populace.
“I am delighted that we are seeing considerable interest in our ideas and opportunities, from the Nordic countries, which are themselves world leaders in the circular economy, in environmental sustainability, and in the inevitable transition to a net-zero-carbon future,” he said.
Governor Sanwo-Olu who identified some of the challenges facing Lagos State with its large population to include, transportation, infrastructure, environment, waste management and Green Energy, among others, said that his administration’s driving force is the T.H.E.M.E.S. developmental agenda.
“I am pleased to note that our administration’s governing agenda for Lagos, known as the T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda prioritises that “21st Century” thinking. The ‘M’ in T.H.E.M.E.S. stands for Making Lagos a 21st Century Megacity, while the first E represents Education and Technology, which are the key requirements for the evolution of a Smart’ City,” he said.
He said Lagos State Government is currently building Nigeria’s biggest metropolitan fiber-optic network that will provide high-speed internet access for public institutions and private sectors, as well as investing public funds in start-ups and academic research, through the Lagos State Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), as part of its commitment to entrenching a culture of innovation.
“We are also looking at agricultural systems that can enable us to maximise productivity while minimising environmental impact, considering our limited land resource. We are automating and digitising various government procedures, like land and property registration – which as you know will have a positive environmental impact, in terms of minimising travel to government offices while also reducing the use of paper,” he said.
Speaking at the event on behalf of the Nordic countries, Deputy Minister for International Trade, Finland, Ms. Nina Vaskunlahti; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway, H.E. Anniken Huitfeldt; State Secretary for Trade and Global Sustainability, Denmark, Mr. Steen Hommel and State Secretary for Foreign Trade and Nordic Affairs, Sweden, Mr. Krister Nilsson, said their countries are set to partner with the Lagos State government in the areas of the circular economy, human development, recycling and waste management and Green transport solution, among others.
Also speaking, the Founder, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Mr. Tony Elumelu commended the Nordic countries for organising the event and interacting with the Lagos State government and business practitioners for investments in the State, noting that entrepreneurship is very key to Africa development.