The first big international gathering of the year was the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) which ended in Davos, Switzerland, at the weekend, with promises from global business leaders to invest in Africa. World leaders discussed climate change, global inequality and rising executive pay in the banking sector.
It was a gathering of top captains of industry, heads of governments, politicians, and key players who shape global economic, political and technological narrative of the world.
The world leaders and multilateral agencies used the forum to demand inclusive global growth, emphasised the power of private capital, rising executive compensation especially in the banking industry and sought more investments in infrastructure.
Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde and other world leaders were all united in their commitment to invest more in Africa.
The Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde warned against fat-cat pay after noticing an increase in executive rewards across the banking sector.
She reminded the financial sector against rising executive pay.“Watch out where your compensation systems are, yet again, going,” she said to bankers.
She also urged the financial sector to aim for a greater purpose than just maximum profit and described the poor representation of women at the top of the banking business as “appalling”.
Lagarde said she was “a strong believer in incentive schemes, but added: “I think we’re seeing some incentive systems in some corners of the financial sector, yet again, moving in a direction that I find not exactly aligned with a sense of purpose that I hope banks actually have.”
Lagarde explained that the public now demands that banks have a greater purpose beyond the bottom line.
“It can’t just be single-mindedly the pursuit of profit, it has to be multifaceted and it has to take into account multiple stakeholders,” she said.
The Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship candidate in the next month’s general elections, Babajide Sanwo-Olu was among the dignitaries the attended the event in Davos, Switzerland from January 22nd to 25th. Other notable Nigerians at the event include former Finance Minister, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Chairman Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu.
Okonjo-Iweala spoke on the need for inclusive growth and the urgency regarding bridging the inequality gap round the world. She emphasized the need for stronger countries to carry the weak one along.
She said that if nominated by shareholders of the World Bank to vie for the to job of World Bank Presidency, she would contest again for the second time.
Mrs. Okonjo Iweala contested for the job in 2012 but lost.
This is coming at the heels of the sudden resignation of the World Bank President earlier this month.
Chairman Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu, said that Africa needs global investments grow its economies and fund infrastructure.
He said that capital goes to where it is most welcome and that African leaders should create enabling environment for investors to come in.
“As you know, capital goes to where it is most welcome, or where the investment destination is more hospitable. For us, we are ready but our political leaders should create enabling environment to attract such investment. We need to ensure that the enabling environment to enable both the small businesses and big businesses do well. We also have to ensure that capital attracted is retained in the continent,” he said.
He said that leadership is key in empowering the African youths. More importantly, he stressed that entrepreneurship would get youths in the continent busy and keep them out of social vices as well as create employment opportunities in the continent.
Other delegates warned of a climate change catastrophe unless urgent action is taken to “bend the curve” on rising greenhouse gas emissions.
They insisted that phasing out burning coal would be a good start, but environmentalists were disappointed when Angela Merkel said Germany would need coal for “a certain time”.
Sanwo-Olu had ahead of the forum, met with select Swiss investors in Geneva during which he highlighted the enormous investment opportunities in Lagos State.
The engagement was an extension of the APC gubernatorial candidate’s consultations with critical stakeholders and international organisations that could support the attainment of his vision for a greater Lagos
The business interaction triggered commitments of $5 billion investment in infrastructure and capital projects in the state and provided an avenue for him to further reinforce the investment opportunities in the state.
While the array of investors comprising commodity traders, equity managers, investment bankers, Fintech & Information Technology experts, infrastructure builders, international donors, energy and power companies unanimously agreed that Lagos is fertile ground for investments, they cited political risk as a more disturbing consideration over economic risk.
But Sanwo-Olu told the investors that Nigeria is safe for investment and Lagos State as the economic nerve centre of the country presents the best environment for global investments. “There is progressive leadership and stability in the governance of Lagos State since 1999. The state has been under the administration of a party, my party, which is the All Progressives Party for more than 16 years. The state has remained a reference point for infrastructural development and economic prosperity in Nigeria and West Africa,” he said.
“On investors’ protection, I think that should be the least of your worries. Lagos has a comprehensive regulation that protects and shields investors. The scope of the regulation covers disputes resolution and commitment to ease of doing business.”
Sanwo-Olu informed the investors about his determination to transform Lagos into a 21st century economy. He disclosed that Lagos economy is adjudged to be the fifth largest in Africa and is not yet a 24-hour economy. He listed transportation and traffic management, health and environment, education and technology, tourism, entertainment among others as top-line agenda his government will pursue upon election in 2019.
Country Portfolio Manager, High Impact Africa 1 Grant Management Division of Global Fund, Ibrahim Faria pledged the commitment to support health system in Lagos State if Sanwo-Olu wins the election.
Also speaking at the forum, the Executive Secretary of the International Trade Centre (ITC), Arancha González said the agency will support the growth agenda of Lagos State.
Specifically, Sanwo-Olu who recently launched his policy agenda for Lagos tagged ‘THEME’, hinted that excellent delivery of socio-economic programmes to residents of a cosmopolitan city like Lagos will require more than willingness on the part of the government, but also the support of world-class human-centered organisations in the areas of frameworks, templates, collaborations, trainings and insights to succeed.
“We have a vision to make Lagos a 21st century economy. This is an exciting aspiration targeted at transforming every aspect of Lagos life. We know that beyond the huge infrastructural requirements and regulatory framework revision, there are also significant human capital development needs that will support the success of this goal. Hence, our call for support by notable global organisations like the International Trade Centre with impressive track-record of helping growing economies”, Sanwo-Olu said.
González said the ITC’s goal is to help developing and transition countries achieve sustainable human development through exports, adding that it is also a development partner for small business export success.
“Lagos is an important city in the world, and because of our commitment to economic development and wellbeing of mankind, we are always inclined to support human-centered programmes. It is pleasing that health, environment, education and technology are some of the focal areas of your agenda because these elements are major items of discussion in the modern world,” she said.
Tagged project THEME, five pillars of development will focus on traffic and transportation, health and the environment, education and technology, making Lagos a 21st century economy, as well as entertainment and tourism, among other issues.
Speaking on Traffic Management and Transportation, Sanwo-olu said he has identified about 60 traffic gridlocks in the state and that gridlock red spots in some parts of the state such as Third Mainland Bridge and Lekki-Ikoyi/Admiralty Way and Lekki Toll Plaza, among others will be resolved within nine months of his administration, saying “we promised to implement a more effective public transport system, reactivate the rail system, extend water transport services, expand and improve network of roads.
On health and environment, Sanwo-Olu promised to ensure the presence of minimum of three doctors, three nurses and five community health workers in all 354 Primary Health Centre (PHCs) by 2021 and provide 10 new PHCs for riverine and other underserved areas, adding that his government would optimize waste management, improve drainage and disposal of wastewater across the metropolis.
Sanwo-Olu noted that as the fifth largest economy in Africa, Lagos needs partnerships with multilateral institutions, global companies and other private investors at home and abroad to expand the current size of the state economy put at $136 billion dollars in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Ambassador Ralph Friedlander said Switzerland is a leading country in promoting small businesses through skill acquisition and vocational trainings and will be ready to work with Lagos State to help develop the right skills for young people to acquire right skills for economic productivity.
“I have seen your areas of focus in your development agenda. Education, health and economic opportunities to lift the poor out of poverty through skill development are areas where we have expertise. We will work with you. Nigeria and Switzerland have solid relationship and we will continue to strengthen that through our work with the central government and we will work with state Lagos State,” he said.