Lagos leverages economic summit to hedge COVID-19 effect on investments
The Lagos State Government has concluded plans to resuscitate its yearly, Ehingbeti Economic Summit, six years after the last one in 2014, to attract new investments and hedge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its economy.
The 2020 edition, which is to hold virtually between November 10 and 12, is themed, “For greater Lagos: Setting the tone for the next decade.”
The Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Samuel Egube, during an interactive session with journalists, explained that most of the developments recorded in the states over the years were from ideas and recommendations gathered from the previous editions of the summit.
According to him, what the Lagos state government is trying to do with the summit is stimulate contribution from the private sector, get them interested in the governance of the state, and lead the way in terms of the outcomes. By collaborating with private sector operators, the Summit has seen the government implement 109 out of 119 resolutions suggested to the state government in past editions.
He said: “The rail line projects, the Lekki toll gate, among others are ideas generated from the economic summit. The summit has a rich history, and is firmly established as a credible forum for stimulating economic growth for Lagos state.
“The first one was hosted in 2000, making this the 20th year since the first summit was held. The first three editions were deliberately diagnostic but by the fourth one, we had started to create a blueprint, and have started to implement it from the early decisions that had been made.
“We highlight what those challenges were and take other decisions on how to repair those challenges. To some it appears the ambitions are too high, because how do you put the private sector in the lead and collaborate in that manner. They have wondered whether the government can be trusted to follow through with this idea of collaboration, but the performance shows that yes, we follow through,” he stated.
Co-chair, Ehingbeti, who also doubles as the Chairman Citibank Nigeria, Olayemi Cardoso, stressed that the state continually outshines others in the country because of its continuous dialogue and collaboration with the private sector.
Cardoso said: “It is timely that this is happening, and I say that because Covid-19 and its aftermath has wreaked havoc in economies around the world, and we are no exception to that and when it is going to end nobody knows.
“All we know is that countries around the world, pay dearly from being on lockdown and for any lockdown, you have a corresponding loss in Gross Domestic Product.
“With the challenges ahead and Lagos being the economic nerve centre of the country, there is a large responsibility to ensure that they protect the citizens of the state and this is something that can’t happen unless it is planned for.
“So, it is a great opportunity for we in the private sector to come together with the government again to show what Lagos is truly made off and show what Lagos can truly do in the most difficult and challenging circumstances of which we are in.”
“As we go forward into the future of Ehingbeti, we would celebrate the past and the 20-year anniversary and then put our heads together to define the future. And what we need to do to stay ahead in the challenging times that we are about to get into. Also, how everybody can have an input to the process and how we as private sector talk about our issues, problems to get the government to collaborate and create an enabling environment for greater private sector investment.”
On her part, the Special Adviser on Sustainable Development Goals, Lagos State, Mrs. Solape Hammond, said: “This forum creates an enabling environment for a most-needed conversation about Lagos and the way forward for the state in terms of growth and development which is what we are more interested in and creates that platform to give everybody a chance to contribute to the next phase of growth and development in Lagos.”
Furthermore, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf said: “The process of Ehingbeti is about inclusiveness and we know that making the economy progress, is about promoting investment and that is what makes the difference between what Lagos and many other states.”