Fashola Receives Lord Mayor of London, Outlines Investment Opportunities In Lagos
• As Lord Mayor Gifford leads high level business delegation to Lagos
May 2, 2013 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Thursday received the Lord Mayor of London, the Rt. Hon. Alderman Roger Gifford who led a high level business delegation from the United Kingdom on a courtesy with the Governor, laying out the immense partnership opportunities in the global city that Lagos has become.
Governor Fashola, who spoke at the Lagos House, Alausa, while playing host to the Lord Mayor, said the City State of Lagos takes both the benefits and the challenges that come with population growth including transportation and other infrastructure to support the population which in turn translate to investment opportunities.
The Governor told the Lord Mayor, who was accompanied by the British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, Mr. Peter Carter, among other top British officials and business executives, "Some of the challenges that we face here include population growth and how to make transportation system much more effective and efficient".
Noting that Transportation has become so critical in the sustainability of human civilization, Governor Fashola, however, disclosed to his visitors, "We are adopting a combination of solutions, rail, road and water transportation, safety and all of that", adding that in other to improve communication, the State has set up a traffic radio station.
"It has helped in a way to assist people plan their journey, save time and all that", the Governor said adding, "We haven't yet reached our goal. We are still looking for real partnerships and expertise in that area".
According to Governor Fashola, "Today Lagos, as a City State, is dealing, as it were, with the challenges and of course taking the benefits of becoming the global citizen in the sense that on the heels of growth opportunities, radical opportunities, Lagos becomes an even more attractive destination now not only for the sub regional, inland and financial capital but also for international financial capital".
The Governor continued, "And in that sense, I think the City of London provides a compass for how best to manage the pressures of this new status, its burden and its benefits", adding that in this respect, the very useful partnerships the State Government has formed with its British counterpart has come in very handy.
"I like to also acknowledge the partnership which we have forged with the British Government particularly the very useful relationships we have with the Deputy High Commissioner and all the others here across the spectrum, Education, Commerce, Healthcare and so many others and I can say looking at them today that we have made progress and both sides are proud to learn from each other", the Governor said.
Expressing joy that the Stock Exchange in Lagos has bounced back after a period of setback, Governor Fashola declared, "The stock exchange here is probably the stock exchange that mirrors now what happens on the Continent. It had suffered losses but I am very proud and happy to say that it is now back, stronger, much more stable, the index stronger and firmer and the confidence in the market clearly restored".
"The competition for the share of the market, I must say depending on what side of the divide you are, for us is getting keener, the interests are diverse as they come. So, perhaps, traditional partners now have to run a bit faster and they cannot lie at ease, if you like, because the competition for the African markets, the Asian market is getting hotter", the Governor noted.
On how to remain in the race and the competition, Governor Fashola counseled, "Every economy needs to reach out even as you grow projections in Africa's benefit now, Africa needs also to begin to think of the future without that growth as we optimize the opportunities that lie in the Continent".
Governor Fashola thanked the Lord Mayor for the courtesy of the visit expressing pleasure that there was a sizeable number of Nigerians among the Mayor's delegation. "I believe you will be pleased to know that on this side too there are quite a number of products of British institutions", he told his visitor.
In his opening remarks earlier, the Lord Mayor said his visit was in line with the intentions of the City of London to develop strong relationships with other international cities across the globe pointing out that London has always presented huge opportunities for citizens of other countries including Nigeria.
According to the Lord Mayor, Nigerians, particularly British Nigerians, have done very well in the city of London availing themselves of the vast opportunities provided by the city especially in the financial sector.
Noting that the United Kingdom banks, about 250 of them, in the City of London are assisting businesses including Nigerian institutions, the Lord Mayor expressed joy that the Nigerian institutions in the City are doing very well.
The Lord Mayor who commended the Nigerian Stock Exchange which he said he visited before coming to the Government House, said he had useful discussions with the London Stock Exchange and the Nigerian Stock Exchange expressing pride that he rang the opening bell and banged the column.
Also present at the occasion were Chief of Staff, Mr. Lanre Babalola, Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Oluranti Adebule, Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Ben Akabueze and his Works and Infrastructure, Science and Technology and Finance counterparts, Dr. Femi Hamzat, Dr. Adesuyi Mabadeje and Mr. Tokunbo Abiru respectively, Special Adviser on Public Private Partnership (PPP), Mr. Ayo Gbeleyi and the Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Relations, Ms Toyin Caxton-Martins on the Government side while the Lord Mayor was accompanied by Director, UK Trade and Investment, Mr. Mike Purwes, Nell Chrimes of Mansion House, Deputy Director UK Trade and Investment, Ms. Beverly Okoye, Trade Development Manager UK Trade and Investment, Nigeria, Mrs. Valerie Agodo and Communication Manager British Deputy High Commission, Mr. Wale Adebajo.
Also in attendance were members of the Business Delegation including Middle East and Africa Director, Travelex, Mr. Mark Smith, Managing Director, Hatch Africa Solutions, Yemisi Mokuolu, Head of Compliance, Union Bank UK, Charles Ladeji, Mayor of Brent, London Borough of Brent, Michael Adeyeye and Head of Government Relations, Africa, Thomson Reuters, Aarti Shah among others.