Dubai Investors to Inject $10bn Into Lagos Economy (allAfrica.com)

The effort of Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) wednesday yielded the desired outcome as a group of investors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Smart City Dubai, disclosed an ambitious plan to inject $10 billion into the state economy.

However, the governor gravely lamented the annual spending on rice importation, which he put at N300 billion, noting that the state could produce only five percent of rice its residents consumed per annum.

The figures were provided after the governor separately held high-profile meetings with the Irish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Sesan Hoy, and the group of Dubai investors at the State House, Alausa.

At the meeting with the Irish team, Ambode said it was quite unfortunate that the state consumed almost like N300 billion worth of rice annually, saying the state could only produce five percent of what it consumes per annum.

“We cannot claim that we are self-sufficient right now, but we have a plan to be able to let us feed ourselves at some point in time. One area that Lagos is really interested in is in the agro business. We have a population of over 20 million. We should be able to plan properly the food security of the state.

“We are looking for a situation where we would expand the potentials of our farmers and cross into other states and be able to produce staple products for the people of Lagos State. So if we have any partnership that can assist us in securing the future of our people in terms of agro business it will be highly welcomed.”

The Dubai investors include, the Head of Delegation of Smart City Group, Prof. Pat Utomi; the Managing Director of Smart City Lagos, Mr. Uzo Udemba and Chief Executive Officer of Smart City Dubai, Mr. Jaber Bin Hafer, among others.

Utomi, who led the delegation of the Dubai investors to the State House, expressed the excitement of the investors on how the Ambode administration had brought dynamism and life to approach FDIs attraction.

At the meeting, Utomi acknowledged that the establishment of an Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment to directly deal with issues that relate to investors coming into Lagos had redefined the state’s scramble for FDIs.

He said the group of investors from the UAE “is aspiring to play a role that will significantly change the business climate in the state. They are looking to invest as much as $10billion in the state within a period of time.

Utomi, a professor of political economy and former presidential candidate, provided a succinct profile of Smart City Dubai, which he said, “has a track record of transforming a desert village to the world’s business hub in one generation.

“My hope and expectation is that this initiative will make that happen for Lagos and be part of the inspiration along with other projects that you are driving, Eko Atlantic and a host of others, to make this a hub for which the economic emancipation of the black man,” Utomi explained.

Also at the meeting, Ambode restated the commitment of his administration to evolve policies and initiatives, which he said would transform the city state into a destination for investors across the world.

He explained that efforts had been made “to create an atmosphere for investors to look towards the direction of the state and for existing businesses to thrive in less than 100 days of this administration.

“We have already created an Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment to directly deal with issues that relate to investors coming into the state. We are committed to a situation where we would create a new city where Africans and especially Nigerians in Diaspora can be proud of and then we also can be proud of.”

He indicated the state government’s interest “to associate with Smart City Dubai. I want to give our commitment today that we are committed to the project that is being done by Smart City Dubai and other investors. We are also committed to giving government support in areas that would make investments easy.

“I want to let you know Professor Utomi is somebody who has had endless passion to make this kind of investment happen in the state, he’s been a major promoter of investment in Lagos and one is so excited. I want to commend you for being part of this initiative”, Ambode assured.

Also, Ambode restated his commitment to the rule of law as well as judicial and security sector reforms, noting that the efforts “are geared towards ensuring that business transactions are done transparently. We will give credence to integrity of this government to make sure that whatever is being done will protect Lagos as well as investors.

“That is what we are committed to. Wherever it is that we can be of help to accelerate the delivery of the project. We would do it. I have no doubt that wherever Prof. Utomi is involved, it comes with a huge sense of integrity. That is why we will ensure that every aspect of making sure that this project is expanded.”