By Tayo Ogunbiyi
In the words of Harvey Firestone, foremost American Business man, œCapital isn™t so important in business. Experience isn™t so important. You can get both these things. What is important is ideas. If you have ideas, you have the main asset you need, and there isn™t any limit to what you can do with your business and your life.” The Ehingbeti Summit is one of the several innovative ideas that the Lagos state government has initiated in its bid to enhance sustainable growth and development in the state. The Summit is a platform through which the State engages the organised private sector to serve as vehicle for the formulation of innovative ideas and policies that will enhance the state™s socio-economic development. It is also designed to attract local and foreign investors just as it showcases the various investment opportunities that abound in the state.
Since the first edition of the summit was held in 2000, it has developed into a constructive intellectual forum for the stimulation of economic growth in Lagos State, and indeed Nigeria. As a result of the need for realistic assessment of implementable goals against set bench marks, the summit, which started as an annual event when the first edition was held, was to later become a biennial event in 2008. The first three editions of Ehingbeti were deliberately, for obvious reasons, planned to be diagnostic in nature. This is to ensure that the challenges are properly identified and articulated so that short, medium and long term solutions could be found for them. Hence, experts and consultants in various fields were brought on board to share experiences together. However, by the 4th Summit in 2008, which was the first edition to be held under the present administration, a blueprint had been developed for implementation. The State Government has since implemented over 100 resolutions reached at past editions of the Summit.
A review of the implementation of the resolutions and recommendation of the 2012 Summit with the theme, ˜From BRICS to BRINCS: Lagos Holds the Key™ by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies responsible for the areas of concentration revealed that a lot of success has been recorded with achievable targets in full focus. The core areas of the Summit in 2012 were Power, Agriculture, Transportation and Housing, which gave rise to the acronym PATH. Massive investments and initiatives have since been undertaken by the State Government in those sectors in conjunction with the private sector and other development partners. This is a clear evidence of the resolve on the part of government to ensure that the Summit is not just another talk shop.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Lagos, in the last thirteen years, has become a model for governance in the country. Novel attainments such as the Bus Rapid Transport System (BRT), Independent Power Plants (IPP), the on-going Lagos Light Rail System and the pattern of road designs with pedestrian walk ways are products of key decisions reached at past Ehingbeti Summits. Similarly, the transformation of the Lagos Island Central Business District, CBD, Badagry and Lekki corridors, Yaba, Surulere, Alimosho to mention a few are parts of the success story of Ehingbeti over the years. Today, all over the state, the state government is living up to one of its basic responsibilities to provide critical transport infrastructure by building new roads.
In order to sustain current pace of development in the state, this year™s Ehingbeti Summit with the theme: ˜Powering The Lagos Economy: Real Opportunities, Endless Possibilities™, focused mainly on the crucial issue of constant and sustainable electricity supply in the state. The essence of the 2014 summit™s focus on power is for the private sector to draw the attention of the government to places where its activities would enable the private sector achieve its potential in terms of delivering service, provision of opportunities and growth of the economy. On its part, the state government has been working tirelessly in pursuit of a new power agenda for the state. Presently, the state government is working on a plan to set up a one-stop shop to fast-track the handling of all issues relating to right of way and power infrastructure development in the state. Similarly, apart from the three functional power plants in Akute, Lagos Island and Alausa, the state government is currently working to install two other plants in strategic locations of the state.
Being an integral part of PATH (Power, Agriculture, Transportation and Housing), the state™s new developmental direction, the Lagos state government™s resolve to evolve new strategies that will enhance stable and constant electricity supply in the state is quite logical. For instance, regular and stable power supply will enable the state to unleash the possibilities of the economy beyond imagination. Small businesses within the state will, no doubt, thrive better if more creative schemes are put in place to guarantee un-hindered power supply. Equally, multi-national firms that have closed shop in Lagos because of the epileptic nature of power, could be lured back if the power situation improves. This would not only bring back lost jobs, but will certainly restore lost ones. Similarly, regular power supply will, no doubt, lead to a much safer Lagos where every inch of it is lit up at night.
From the various discussions at the 2014 Ehingbeti summit, it is quite clear that the country would not be able to accelerate its socio-economic growth unless, concerted efforts are made to develop creative initiatives that could confront and overcome current power situation. As the most populous black country in the world, we need to do more in respect of adequate power generation and effective distribution. The top 20 countries of the world such as China, which is currently the world™s largest producer of power, South Africa and Mexico, among others, generate power in excess of their demand.
For the power need of Lagos to be effectively met, efforts must be made to ensure proper alignment of the entire value chain of power generation, transmission and distribution. Equally, the development of emergency power system, increased partnership with Independent Power Plant (IPP) producers, the creation of necessary institutional frameworks and facilitation of an enabling environment would go a long way to accelerate power delivery to the state.
Undoubtedly, if effectively implemented, the various recommendations of 2014 Ehingbeti summit would help accelerate the socio-economic development and growth of the state, since effective power delivery is central to the realization of the state government™s Ten Point Agenda. Given the centrality of Lagos to the overall economic prosperity of Nigeria, it is essential that the state government continue to support new initiatives, ideas and visions that could improve power delivery in the state and, indeed, the country at large
•Ogunbiyi wrote from Alausa, Ikeja.
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