African cities are sprawling – Nigerian ones in particular. Nigeria’s infrastructure and economic development however lag far behind one of the highest population growth rates in the world. More than ever the country’s future depends on its ability to build and modernise its infrastructure and attract investment. The latter is especially important because the country’s ambitious infrastructure plans require large financial resources.
Earlier this month, our Future Cities Nigeria project partnered with the Ogun State Government and the UK Department of International Trade to bring together UK and Nigerian business, government and development players. The purpose: better understand investor interests, required investment protections as well as present tangible investment opportunities in the areas of urban and transport infrastructure – particularly relating to the master plan to connect the Lagos metropolitan area to Ogun state via the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, which is the busiest arterial route in West Africa.
Helen Grant MP, the UK Prime Minister’s Nigeria Trade Envoy, delivered the opening address, along with Guy Harrison (Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office), and Naomi Hoogervorst (UN Habitat). In her opening address, Ms. Grant remarked: “Making Nigeria an even more appealing destination for investment will be vital in addressing the social, human, economic and financial impact of Covid. It will mean we all have to work even harder to build those new and exciting UK-Nigeria economic partnerships (…). Particularly transport and infrastructure investments can really boost growth and we are very keen to bring more investors into thriving destinations such as Lagos and Ogun State.”
The virtual summit received excellent feedback from its over 65 participants, amongst them three State Commissioners from Ogun State and several UK and Nigerian business leaders.
In his presentation on ‘Creating an Enabling Environment for Investment in Ogun State’, Dapo Okubadejo, Commissioner for Finance and Chief Economic Adviser to Ogun State, said: “Our vision is to make Ogun State the fastest growing economy in Nigeria and maximise opportunities for all its citizens (…). We aim to drive the agenda through public-private partnership.”
Participating UK business leaders included James Freeman, retiring MD of First West of England; Justin Coetzee, CEO GoAscendal; and Ade Obatoyinbo of Cummins West Africa, amongst others.
FCDO funds Future Cities Nigeria, which in turn develops investable, bankable projects in Ogun State like supporting the transition mass transportation vehicles that run on alternative fuels. These projects are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and are inclusive, climate resilient and reduce CO2 emissions.
The positive deliberations from the event have set the foundations what will be the larger summit planned by the Ogun State Government with support from Future Cities Nigeria.