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HomeBusinessGov, Sanwo-Olu seeks foreign investors' participation in fintech, health, education in Lagos

Gov, Sanwo-Olu seeks foreign investors’ participation in fintech, health, education in Lagos

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has urged existing and potential investors to continuously see Lagos, “the crown sub-national jewel of the African economy,” as a choice place for investments.

He said Lagos State is the right place for investments in fintech, edtech, healthtech, business process outsourcing (BPO), talent training and placement, and physical infrastructure like data centers, among others.

“It is always my very great pleasure to engage with existing and potential investors and business people in Nigeria, and most especially in Lagos State, the crown subnational jewel of the African economy.”

I am sure many of you will be familiar with the numbers and the fact that Lagos is the fifth-largest economy on the continent, the most populous city, and the fastest-growing urban center, with a very vibrant and entrepreneurial population made up of mostly young people.

“We have the market; we have the talent; we have the enabling environment; and we have the physical infrastructure, all in place. And we have the success stories, great testimonials of what is possible when people come together to develop and implement great ideas and solutions, backed by the power of private capital and the support of understanding and enthusiastic governments,” he said.

Governor Sanwo-Olu spoke at a high-level US-Nigeria Council for Food Security, Trade, and Investment (UNSC) event on the sidelines of the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings in Washington, DC, United States, on Thursday.

The Governor acknowledged the place of the US-Nigeria Council as the preeminent business organization working to strengthen economic and commercial ties between the United States and Nigeria.

Governor Sanwo-Olu during the event spoke on the giant strides of his administration in different sectors, especially in infrastructure, food security, and digital technology, in line with the THEMES six pillars of the developmental agenda: transportation and traffic management, healthcare and the environment, education and technology, making Lagos a 21st Century megacity, entertainment, tourism, and sports, and security and governance.

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He said: “One of the accomplishments we are proud of, in our first four years, has been the completion of the first phase of the Lagos Light Rail Blue Line—the first modern intra-city rail system in Lagos State.”

“As I speak, test-running is going on, allowing Lagosians to have a long-overdue sense of what it is to belong to a city with a 21st-century rail system.”

“We are also completing work on the first phase of the Red Line; together, the Blue and Red Lines form two of the total of six lines that will crisscross the metropolis.”

“At the beginning of this year, the President joined us in Lagos to commission the Lekki Deep Sea Port, on the eastern corridor of Lagos. It will interest you to know that the Deep-Sea Port was the first deep-sea port to be built in Nigeria and is now the most modern one in West Africa. A real game-changer for shipping and logistics in Nigeria and all of the West Coast of Africa

“Lagos State owns a 20 percent stake in that port, while private investors own 75 percent.” The port will create an estimated 170,000 direct and indirect jobs and generate government revenue of over $200 billion over its 45-year concession period.

“It is, in our view, among the biggest and most transformational infrastructure investments in Lagos State in several decades, and we worked very hard with the private sector and the federal government to deliver it.”

Expect more of these kinds of collaboration in the next four years, especially as we look to deliver on a new bridge across the Lagos Lagoon, the 4th Mainland Bridge, and a new international airport in Lagos.

The governor said some of the large-scale infrastructure projects being implemented by his administration are a 10-lane expressway linking Nigeria to Benin Republic and a network of access roads to the Lekki Deep Sea Port.

Speaking on the Lagos State Government’s commitment to agriculture and food security, Governor Sanwo-Olu said his government’s focus is on processing and storage because of the state’s population, which makes it Nigeria’s biggest food consumption hub.

“We are also very blessed with water—a lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean—which means fisheries are a huge opportunity.” It is with these opportunities in mind that we have recently completed the largest rice mill in sub-Saharan Africa, which will be managed by private players, while also building what will be the largest Food Security Systems and Central Logistics Park in sub-Saharan Africa.

“This park with storage facilities that can guarantee uninterrupted food supplies to more than 10 million people for at least 90 days is one of the outcomes of our five-year Lagos State Agricultural and Food Systems Road Map (2021–2025). I will encourage you all to get as familiar as possible with these Lagos State Government policy documents and road maps, which give an overview of our thinking and policy direction.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu also spoke about the Lagos State Government’s success in digital technology and innovation, noting that Nigeria’s ICT sector, a component of the digital economy, was the only sector of the economy that grew by double digits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Lagos, I am proud to say, is the Fintech Capital of Africa, the city where companies like Flutterwave, Paystack, and Interswitch were born. And these are only three of several thriving startups in our ecosystem.

“According to Afridigest, Africa had, as of February 2023, seven unicorn companies. Of those seven, four originated in Nigeria, Lagos to be precise, and all four attained unicorn status between 2019 and 2021. These four are also reported to be responsible for $7.5 billion of the $11.45 billion total valuation of African unicorns.

“Last year, Microsoft launched its Africa Development Center in Lagos, while Google landed its Equiano Sub-Sea Cable on our shores. We have, in the last few years, seen a huge number of major new data center investments, valued at more than 1.5 billion US dollars.”

He stressed further that “as a state government, we are partnering with the federal government and the private sector to redevelop the National Theatre, a Lagos landmark, into a world-class creative and technology park, with hubs for IT, music, film, and fashion.” That multi-million-dollar redevelopment is very well advanced now and should be completed this year.

“I must also not fail to mention the fact that Nigeria now has a Startup Act, the Nigeria Startup Act, which was signed into law by President Buhari some months ago and which is further solidifying our status as the country of choice for technology investment in Africa.

“On our own, as the Lagos State Government, we have recently completed the laying of 3,000 km of fiber-optic cable and associated infrastructure across the State, connecting public buildings and infrastructure as part of our Smart City Project.

“That Smart City Project also includes hundreds of video surveillance cameras to improve security in the metropolis as well as help us better coordinate our emergency response systems.

“Another key element of this smart city project is our intelligent transport system, which helps us manage traffic better.” Anyone who’s familiar with Lagos knows that traffic management is very key to maximizing the potential of the megacity.

“Our Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC) exists to provide funding and strategic support to science and technology research and innovation in Lagos State, from academia and the private sector.”

So far, LASRIC has funded more than 60 startups working in healthcare, agriculture, construction, alternative energy, the circular economy, software as a service (SaaS), and so on.

“Digital Transformation is a key priority for us, introducing digital tools to re-imagine and underline everything we do as a government, from our internal operations to our interactions with the public.

“Some of the ways we have digitally transformed our service offerings across various economic sectors include digitizing the payment systems for our multi-modal transport networks as well as the delivery of our educational curriculum in our public schools.”

Speaking on the May 29 swearing-in of the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Governor Sanwo-Olu said: “We have a new President-Elect who will be sworn in on May 29: Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007.

For me personally, it means a lot; my first public sector job was in the Lagos State Government when he was Governor, and also the fact that we will have a President who, having governed Lagos, has a very personal understanding of its needs and challenges.

“Lagos will continue to be in alignment with the ruling party at the center, which we have enjoyed for the last eight years and which has been transformational for us in various ways.”

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