Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has stated that unlocking the potential of the Southwest would depend on the commitment of regional governments to stronger alliances and exploration of evidence-driven solutions for sustainable development.
Speaking at the two-day Southwest Investment Promotion Agencies Conference (IPAC-1) in Ikeja, the Governor explained that the forum was informed by the collective desire to explore common heritage to stimulate growth and improve the socio-economic artilleries of the region.
Sanwo-Olu posited that the session came at a crucial time when opportunities are being exploited to ignite economic growth and deliver sustainable development across every sector of our economy, taking cognisance of the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic to the global economy.
According to him, the primary essence of regional integration is to stimulate the allocation of resources based on the perceived comparative advantage of each State, hence the coordinated and collective efforts to facilitate the flow of trade, capital, energy, people and ideas for the solution of issues prevalent in key economic sectors.
Highlighting the strategic importance of the convergence in line with the theme “Southwest: An Economic Bloc for Investment”, the Governor maintained that governments of member States should directly encourage effective regional cooperation and integration among members by supporting efforts towards deepening regional markets, enhancing transboundary cooperation, boosting intra-State trade, accelerating industrialisation, fostering market institutions and tackling the challenges of structural transformation.
He stated that in order to turn economic gains into sustainable growth and shared prosperity, the public and private sectors must work together to connect the region’s markets, deepen regional integration and adopt reforms that enhance competitiveness, stressing that Lagos is enticing for investment due to its world-class finance industry’s global hedge, private equity funds, multinational companies, sophisticated industries and supply chains that can help accelerate even development within the region.
In his keynote address, the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu declared that the economic potential and socio-political cohesion of the region is to be substantially optimised to create a more inclusive and resilient society across the Southwest states.
He urged the governments and private institutions to harness resources in order to develop regional economies that would respond to the human need for dignity, freedom, continued growth and overall economic prosperity.
Represented by the Chief Executive Officer, Ondo State Development and Investment Promotion Agency (ONDIPA), Mr. Boye Oyewumi, the Governor confirmed that strong policies supporting strategic infrastructure, particularly improved access to digital technology and innovations, are indispensable.
Applauding the leadership of Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) for its consistent role in mobilising collective strength, assets and capacities within the region for sustainable development, Akeredolu stated that it is significant for development partners to harmonise policies suitable to attract investment on a larger scale.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Sustainable Development Goals and Investment, Mrs. Solape Hammond, declared that the focus of the conference was to enrich integration, collaboration, strategic policy formulation, trade obstacles and challenges, shared opportunities as well as short and long term comparative advantages.
She emphasised that globalisation and the pace of technological change have brought unprecedented innovations to the process of investment, stating that governments and institutions should maximise these opportunities to improve the lives of their citizens.
While maintaining that macroeconomic stability is clearly an important part of the growth and investment equation, Hammond state that investors must be confident about foolproof security to inflationary surges and sudden reversal of policies’
Stating that the Southwest as a bloc, with good investment standing, can surely influence most policies to her advantage, the Special Adviser pointed out that States need to coordinate tax policies by simplifying and harmonising tax incentives which perhaps is critical to attracting the desired investment to the region.
Hammond said: “As we proactively pursue desirable investment, member States must begin to lay emphasis on policies that promote impact investing, derive new focus towards market discovery, capacity building, identifying and connecting local investors with key industries”.
The two-day event featured the presentation of papers and panel discussions to identify territorial challenges and assist governments in the assessment and improvement of investment policies.