The Director General, World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Sudanese- British billionaire business man, Mo Abudu have called on the Lagos State government to focus on the infrastructural development of the city as key to moving the state forward. Speaking at the Ehingbeti-Lagos Economic Summit 2021, they agreed that with the huge population of Lagos and the economic opportunities available, infrastructure was critical.
Okonjo-Iweala argued that with the rate of population growth in Lagos, infrastructure development cannot be overemphasized. Her words: “I listened to Mo Ibrahim talking about the future, create jobs for the youths, but the future is changing, the future is dynamic. The future is artificial intelligence, digital economy. It is here to stay and we can’t do anything about it. Either Nigeria, Lagos State, Africa gets on board or we get left behind.
“I think the biggest challenge for Lagos State is infrastructure. And if you don’t get the infrastructure right, I mean the infrastructure of the future, not just roads and all the other things that cause bottleneck… of course you have telecommunications infrastructure-broadband, you also need electricity and energy. So, one of things you have to make sure the state takes on board is how to have a steady supply of electricity. And in saying that, we also have to look at how to move to renewables and green. The world is also turning green very rapidly… Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure, for a Lagos of the future.
“The population is growing, if you don’t keep up with infrastructure, all you will end up with are bottlenecks. That was what Mo Ibrahim was talking about. But if you can really make it modern, forward looking infrastructure, which is what we need.
“I want to just end by saying one thing. The world as I said is going digital that is e-commerce is here to stay. The amount of transactions in e-commerce now, in the United States, it is over $500 billion, with a net gain to the US of over $200 billion. This shows you the direction in which it is going. How can we tap into digital economy?”
Mo Abudu commended the state government, and advised them on the need to build infrastructure. He said: “I think the government and governor of Lagos really need to focus and deliverables through your city: transportation needs improvement, waste management needs improvement, health, schools…really delivering basic services in a secured and peaceful environment. Security is very important; rule of law is really important. If focus on delivering the basic services to the city of Lagos to unable young people to thrive, to build businesses, kids to go school, not much time wasting in going from point A to B, how to improve the life of our citizens in Lagos, because this is a wonderful metropolis. It is huge by any standard…
“Let us focus on few things and deliver them with clean government. Let us make sure we run a clean government and a clean process because this is what attracts investors. We need create a healthy environment for investors.
“We need progress is not bad. We need a sensible government. We need to make it easy for people to come and invest. If want to start something, you need to get a quick answer from the government so that you can proceed. It is just to create this business friendly environment which enables people to come.”
The billionaire business man also called on Nigeria to leave up to its leadership role in the continent. He said Nigeria was a huge country that ought to galvanize Africa to economic prosperity and that Nigeria should rise up to the challenge. His words: “Nigeria, with its huge population, should be a major player in world production. He said: “China cannot be where it is today without that 1.4 billion people. That is mass market which creates the scope to unable business abroad and to really create a vibrant market. I really look forward to a viable Nigeria to fulfill your promise and take Africa forward because you have what it takes. You a very vibrant young people, Some of the most educated, very intelligent people that I have seen in Africa are Nigerians. So, you have a valuable human resource. You have the capacity, you have the intelligence. Can you please rise now and let us rise with you. This is a plea to brothers and sisters. We are waiting for you wake up and wake us up.”