Opening Remarks Delivered At The Lagos State Infrastructure Roundtable 

Thank you all for joining us at the 1st Lagos State Infrastructure Round Table hosted in collaboration with the Harvard Business School Association of Nigeria (HBSAN)

Many people will ask, why an Infrastructure Roundtable?

We are at a point in our history where we must carefully assess our situation and take careful and deliberate actions to handle the challenges that face us as a State. We must take actions that will not only affect our livelihood today but protect the future of our younger generations.

Let me give you a few statistics:

  • The population of Lagos State today is estimated at 24 million people and still counting.
  • The population of Lagos today is equal to that of 30 African countries put together.
  • By 2050, Lagos is on track to be a city of 36million people or the 6th largest city in the world after Mumbai, Delhi, Dhaka, Kinshasa, and Kolkata and ahead of Tokyo, Karachi, NY, and Mexico City.
  • We have a migration rate of 86 people moving into Lagos every hour, higher than New York, London or Mumbai.
  • We have a population density of 6,939 persons per Kilometre and an average of 5 persons per household
  • With all these comes challenges and pressures on the physical and social infrastructure.
  • As at 2010, our State was facing an infrastructure deficit of $50billion, without the inclusion of Housing and Education.
  • In 2017, we can all imagine what this deficit will be.

To make it a bit clearer, let me state some of the sectoral deficits we face in Lagos State.

  • Lagos State requires 1 million housing units every year for 5-10 years to fix the housing deficit
  • As at 2015, our State had 16,000km network of roads but with a daily human traffic of over 7.5million people and 2.8million cars
  • The power needs of the State is over 10,000 MW of Power but we receive less than 2,000MW
  • We presently supply 210.5 million gallons of water per day(“mgpd”) as against a demand of 750 mgpd
  • Our State generates 13,000 tonnes of solid waste per day

These are just a few areas where we have huge infrastructure deficits.

I am not bringing up these details to scare us but to let us know the challenges ahead. As a government, we are aware of these challenges. These are challenges that face most mega cities like ours because we represent hope to many people and we must provide for all who make Lagos their home. If Lagos works, we could have a chance as a nation to work on others.

This is why we supported this initiative to hold an infrastructure roundtable.

The questions before us today are;

  • How do we bridge this gap in infrastructure?
  • Considering that revenues are not growing at

the same rate as the rapidly increasing population, how do we finance the necessary infrastructure to keep our State running efficiently and support all our residents?

  • We do not want to increase taxes unnecessarily or tax our residents to death, so what are the best funding options available? What is our best mix? What is appropriate financial model to run the State?
  • Where should we consider PPP arrangements, where should the government handle solely and which should be privatised?
  • Which infrastructure should be prioritised?

In government, we do not have all the answers. That is the truth. That is why we are here. Our primary role as government is to be enablers. Our major responsibilities are to protect the lives and property of residents and to improve their welfare. I hope to get some answers today.

We have decided to collaborate with the Harvard Business School Association of Nigeria. The institution’s long history of academic excellence, as well as the professional success of its graduates all over the world is very commendable. Interestingly, I just came back from Boston where I spoke on the challenges of urban poverty.

Today, we want to tap into the alumni expertise and that of other selected experts who will be giving us their views on the infrastructure challenge in Lagos State.

It is well known that Lagos State government has always adopted a long-term view on infrastructure development and economic independence, and will continue to search for new and innovative ways to create value for our citizens and improve general quality of life in the state.

Today is about learning, collaboration, and most importantly action.  Our primary objective at the end of this event is to take the ideas and suggestions that best enable Lagos State to achieve its economic and social goals for improving the quality of its citizens’ lives, and convert them into practical plans and actions. I encourage you all to please ask questions, provide critique, feedback and feel free to fully engage.

We hope you depart from this event with a clearer idea of what role you can play in contributing to elevating the State to the enviable position as one of Arica’s most desirable cities to live in.

Once again, thank you all very much for coming, and for those of you visiting from other countries, we welcome you to Lagos and hope you leave Nigeria with a better, more balanced impression of the country and her people.

It is now my pleasure to declare this roundtable event open.

Thank you.