The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, has described the 37th edition of the Lagos International Trade Fair, organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), as strategic, saying that the chamber is providing another huge 10-day window for businesses to showcase their products and services, gain great marketing mileage and fresh opportunity for networking with other businesses, and that the platform is very timely and transformative by building investment ecosystems to support more competitive investment opportunities in Nigeria.
The governor said the fair, which holds in Lagos, has the potential to generate and woo Foreign Direct Investment into our dear country and reduce the pressure on our currency. The need to leverage this event to drive more investment also becomes more apparent, when we consider the good percentage of Nigeria’s population under the age of 30, in addition to other variables that are critical to encouraging investors and growing the economy. He noted that while some people would call the youth population as a challenge to be managed, he would rather viewed it as a great potential to be unleashed in Lagos State and the nation at large.
Sanwo-Olu promised that the Lagos State government would continue to be partner in progress towards ensuring conducive business environment for investments to thrive in the state. He stated further that the quest to move Lagos from being Nigeria’s biggest commercial city to become a mega or smart city by running on 21st century economic dynamics, would depend, to a large extent, on the political will to effectively tackle various challenges confronting businesses in Nigeria such as inadequate infrastructure, poor power supply, security and others. “For us, we see the challenges as great opportunities for further investment and our administration is not only working assiduously to change the narratives, we are also ready to work with willing investors to expand the infrastructure for the benefit of our businesses in particular and our state and nation in general”.
The governor informed that the state was committed to huge resources to build infrastructure that improves business operations and make the state attractive for investment. “Among what we have done in recent times is the completion of the first phase 13-kilometer Lagos Rail Mass Transit – Blue Line, which had eased the movement of workforce and goods, eliminate stress associated with public transportation and reduce traffic gridlock along with productive man hour loss in traffic, and that since the tracks were energised, daily trip of the rail had increased from 12 to 54, while working towards the actual target of 74 trips per day.
He said that in addition to other investments, the state government was still making 10,000 metric tonnes of rice mill at Imota, had completed and ongoing road construction projects, completion of the first phase of the 6,000 Fibre Optic Cable Network that would expand broadband access and drop internet connectivity at homes and business spaces in the state, with different supports to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and many other interventions. He gave an assurance that the state government was committed to providing a friendly and conducive business environment for the Organised Private Sector and other stakeholders, through continuous engagement in the implementation of policies, regulations and projects as they impact business prosperity of the state.
On his part, the President of the LCCI, Otunba (Dr.) Michael Olawale-Cole said that Nigeria had been facing some challenging economic environment in recent times and that some of them were necessary because they “have tested our resilience and have called for innovative solutions to foster economic growth and prosperity for our nation and for our people. It is, therefore, my privilege to present the pivotal roles that trade fairs like this play in shaping our economic future as individuals, businesses and as a nations”. Olawale-Cole said the theme for the trade fair, “Navigating economic Challenges: Forging a path to prosperity”, had reflected the reality that we face and in a different sense and underscored the determination of the Nigerian business community to overcome its many hurdles of existence, survival, and growth.
The importance of such a theme cannot be overstated. It calls upon us to acknowledge the difficulties we face while inspiring us to seek solutions, embrace new opportunities, and develop innovative strategies to foster economic growth. Nigeria’s economy, like many others, had been impacted by global economic shocks, geopolitical uncertainties such as the Russia-Ukraine war, the number of successful coups and coup attempts in Africa, the war in Gaza, and the present administration’s economic policy reforms. These challenges have left no sector untouched. From the impact on small and medium-sized enterprises to the challenges faced by large corporations, we have all had to adapt, innovate, and persevere, he said.
Despite these challenges, he said we stand here today, showcasing the resilience of our people and our unwavering commitment to progress. The Lagos International Trade Fair is another testament to the entrepreneurial spirit that so well adds definition to our countrymen and women. It provides a stage for us to come together, learn from one another, and explore avenues for cooperation. Nigeria, being the “Giant of Africa”, had been a beacon of hope and opportunity on the continent for decades. With a population of over 200 million people, it boasts the largest consumer market in Africa, but that we cannot choose to deny the recent domestic economic challenges.
High inflation, unstable exchange rates, and that consistent dependence on oil revenue have their headwinds that had continued to hinder progress. “The fair is not merely an exhibition of products and services; it is a testament to our resilience and determination to overcome the economic challenges that lie before us. It is a declaration of our intent to harness the potential within our borders and showcase it to the world. It is an invitation to our international partners to join us on this highly-transformational journey”, the LCCI President said.