That Lagos is Nigeria’s commercial hub is not in doubt. What is intriguing and exciting is how governance in the state constantly reinvents itself to suite and adapt to the changing demands of a globalised world. It is this capacity at innovating that puts Lagos State miles ahead of the pack. This time, the governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, is reinventing the wheels by making Lagos the most business-friendly state, both for foreign and local investors. This will be done through the dissemination of apt and helpful information on the new instruments of governance put in place as enablers for ease of doing business. Lagos Global on TV is Ambode’s magic wand for ease of accessing investment opportunities in the state.
Apart from infrastructural deficit, mostly electricity, the bureaucratic bottlenecks in the form of multiple agencies and taxes, long, legal paper work and access to land largely frustrate investors seeking to do business in any part of Nigeria. But Ambode, who is continuing the quest for Lagos to attain the mega city status, is taking steps to reduce, if not remove, these bottlenecks to ensure investor confidence in a city that works for its citizens. Aware of the role prompt disseminate of inform plays in a global world, Ambode will, through Lagos Global on TV, reach would-be investors willing to take advantage of the business opportunities in Lagos.
During the launched last week at Government House, Alausa, Ikeja, Ambode, alongside his Senior Special Assistant on Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment (Lagos Global), Prof. Ademola Abass, recorded the pilot edition in the presence of the business community and a global media audience.
In his preliminary remarks, Abbas said the state government was desirous “to improve business investment. Our purpose is to drive investment to Lagos State. As a government, we have no business in doing business but we must make the state viable for businesses to thrive. Lagos ranks first in the ease of doing business index in Nigeria; next is Kano State. Lagos is the fifth largest economy in Africa. So, it’s high time we began to take steps to let people know what we are doing to instigate citizens to buy into our programmes, our activities, and to let people know that we have an office that is driving our businesses”.
To present Lagos Global on TV will be Temitope Oluseyi-Osi. The programme will be aired on TVC and the state-owned LTV8 stations respectively.
On his part, Ambode stressed the need “for a safer, cleaner and prosperous Lagos,” which could only be achieved through “a strategy to drive businesses and enhance security, job creation and improvement of infrastructure. Lagos has become safer. We understand that if you make Lagos safer, people will like to do business. When more businesses come, you create jobs and prosperity for the people. That job lies with the Office of Global Affairs.”
Abass further explained the role of his office to include intervening in the overall goal of bringing investment to the state through debureacratising the system so it works effectively and seamlessly. Until now, as in all government activities, he explained, there are multiple agencies and organs doing the same things that usually frustrate and erode investor confidence. Abbas said his office is “a one-stop shop. When you apply to do business, we take it to the land bureau, business promotion council. We debureaucratise the process itself. We operate in a small office. Information is very easy to get today”.
“We come with credibility, value, and we are willing to do business,” Ambode stressed on how the new model would be achieved. “We do not have to do public-private-partnerships. We are enablers and won’t dabble into business. The idea is to make Lagos more prosperous. Government should be able to create environment for people to do business. It’s more about value proposition for Lagosians to be prosperous and happy.”
Although the current administration has done a lot to ease traffic issues in the state, Abass harped on the perennially abandoned water transportation in the state, saying government would be alive to its potentials and soon start harnessing it to further ease free flow of movement, adding, “We have not maximised our water transportation even as we have a large body of water in the state.”
Abass spoke about Lagos’ health care system and how the state would soon be a destination point in medical tourism to save scarce foreign exchange for the country, saying that Nigerians spent billions of naira every year going to India and South Africa for health reasons. The smart way forward, Abass noted, is to look inward, noting, “We have the best medical personnel practicing all over the world. Why not create a world class medical facility here? Nigerians are the best everywhere.”
On agriculture and Nigeria’s vast bitumen deposits, Abass also indicated the state’s readiness to tap into them for maximum benefits, stating that Lagos Global was open to Lagosians and foreigners alike. He restated the purpose of his office, saying, “It’s about the value you bring to the economy. By so doing, you create more jobs for Lagos.”
For Ambode, the reforms taking place in Lagos were conceived to grow the state’s GDP and create a prosperous state. The governor also disclosed that the state has an energy security plan, adding, “For a state of 22 million people, we need energy security. We need a roadmap to drive energy and oil security. We have an advisory council working on it. It’s about the energy supply of a thriving city, to make the state investment-friendly.”
Ambode also spoke about a tech-savvy mega city and helping SMEs grow, saying it was why his government set aside N6.25 billion “to help tap into the SMEs and the creative talents of the young minds. We will use our ID card project to drive data and financial planning.”
For ease of doing business in Lagos, Abbas’ Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment (Lagos Global), will work to promote investment, act as a one-stop shop for investors, identifies and promotes foreign direct investment, promote export, acts as ‘business ombudsman’ – help investors and local business community navigate government bureaucracy and liaises with embassies and high commissions, chambers of commerce to facilitate foreign investment in Lagos. Others include liaising with the federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant ministries and agencies to attract investment to Lagos, liaising with the Federal Ministry of Commerce and relevant agencies on trade promotion and facilitation and liaising with Lagos State MDAs to maximize and promote Lagos export potentials.