Lagos – Nigeria’s most populous state with smallest landmass – has evolved from squalor to become one of the biggest economies in Africa. This progress is not without its attendant development challenges, which Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at an international investment forum on Thursday, attributed to “self-inflicted troubles” resulting from the growth trajectory of the State over the past two decades.
The Governor said each time Lagos made a progress in its development effort, more people would be drifted to the city from different parts of the country. The uncontrolled migration, he said, leads to the continuous expansion of the State’s population, which overstretches public facilities and services.
Sanwo-Olu, however, shared the approach being adopted by his administration to surmount the challenges facing Lagos and turn them to opportunities. The Governor spoke at the on-going Africa Investment Forum (AIF) in Marrakech, Morocco, with the theme: “Leveraging Cities and Municipalities for National Development.”
The forum is a multi-stakeholders platform that advances infrastructure investment and raises capital for city projects. African business leaders, investors and heads of multilateral institutions, including the President of African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, graced the event.
Sanwo-Olu participated in a discussion panel moderated by AfDB’s Senior Advisor on Communication and Stakeholder Engagement, Dr. Victor Oladokun. Other panelists are the Vice President of the Municipality of Marrakech, Morocco, Prof. Khadija Bouhrachi, and Vice Governor of Autonomous City of Abidjan, Hon. Yeo Klotioloma.
The Lagos helmsman explained how his administration had doubled the drive in public planning to harness the State’s population potential. He said his Government had been addressing infrastructure deficit facing the State by committing short- and long-term investments in critical areas to bolster Lagos’ resilience and aid mass mobility.
Sanwo-Olu said the six-pillar THEMES economic agenda rolled out by his Government had changed the development trajectory of the State, resulting in completion of first sub national intracity rail infrastructure. He added that Lagos could now boast of an integrated mass transportation system, because of priority accorded the Transportation and Traffic Management.
He said: “In the last five years, the progress we have seen in Lagos is reflecting in the changing skyline of the State today. We have changed the development trajectory of Lagos; we have been able to complete an intracity rail infrastructure. This has raised the State’s capability by ensuring our citizens move effectively in a more predictable time. We designed a six-pillar economic agenda that enable us prioritise Transportation and Traffic Management and face the challenges head-on. We have been able to achieve a lot in this regard, with Lagos having an integrated mass transportation system, which uses waterways, rail and bus rapid system.
“We engaged our energetic young people to develop a unified payment system called Cowry Card to be used across our mass transportation means. This is making the city a lot more functional, liveable and resilient. Economic sustainability is critical indicator to measure progress of a city, so that people can know that they are in a city where resources need to be used effectively. The strength of the city is about economic development. Africa is the resource centre of the world due to the abundance of youth energy domiciled in the continent. I am delighted to see African cities coming together for peering and evaluation of development indices. We need to get the youth engaged and create opportunities to guarantee their future.”