BY ONOME AMUGE
The Lagos State government says it is committed to increasing retail trading in the state to over 60 percent in order to ensure it leverages the Nigerian market demand as it aims to become the export hub for fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs) and exports into West Africa.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos state governor, stated this during the 8th edition of the EU-Nigeria Business Forum (EUNBF) in Lagos themed “Nigeria and the New Economy”.
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Reiterating the state government’s effort to improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria’s commercial capital through infrastructure development, Sanwo-Olu noted that there is a need for serious engagement and discussions with policymakers to address the challenges that constitute barriers of investments in the country.
This, according to the governor, will improve and enhance trade between Nigeria and other West African countries in an organic manner in the next 25 to 30 years.
Sanwo-Olu also disclosed that the state is on the verge of completing its 32-metric tonnes rice mill infrastructure located in Imota, adding that the state government is working with national bodies and French companies to develop the biggest food markets in the country.
He described Lagos State as West Africa’s main trade hub, saying the state has the capacity to act as a regional gateway for transit, port services and container outputs.
Speaking of other developments, the governor said the deep seaport in Lekki will be opened before the end of the year which will further decongest the ports in Apapa and Tincan. He said there is also an approval for a Badagry port, leading to more decentralization and making Lagos better positioned as a hub for international trade.
“We also want to establish a world-class international financial centre, ranked as a leading hub in Africa. Financial services account for about 7 percent of GDP here in Lagos while Fintech investments here in Nigeria have grown to almost 200 percent in the last three years. We will also establish the state as the base for high-quality cutting-edge sustainable real estate markets in West Africa,” he said.
The EUNBF is an annual event organised by the EU delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
According to the organisers, the forum serves as a platform for European and Nigerian businesses to increase domestic investments, improve access to the EU market, and build strategic partnerships with the Nigerian authorities and industrialists towards improving the business environment and the economy at large.