By Rachael OKPORU
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Thursday revealed strategies being adopted towards moving the State from mega city to smart city, just as he said that his administration has put in place policy framework for a technology-driven land administration and mapping, tax administration and justice administration.
Speaking at an international conference held at Eko Hotels and Suits as part of activities marking the Lagos@50 celebrations with the theme: “Towards A Smart City: Preparing For The Next 50 Years Of Prosperity,” Governor Ambode said the government has completed modalities for the take-off of the digital switch, all of which he said would come on stream in the coming months.
The Governor acknowledged that for the State to be prosperous in future and occupy its pride of place among city states, concerted efforts must be geared towards equipping the youth with technological and educational skills they can use to develop solutions to challenges.
He said the future prosperity of Lagos is dependent on how well the young ones are equipped technologically and educationally, adding that in line with such, the State Government was already focusing on driving growth through key areas such as ICT, transportation, ease of doing business and tourism.
While alluding to the theme of the conference, Governor Ambode said if Lagos must become a Smart City, the next 50 years of the State must cut out a path to create a framework for leaders that are not only visionary but also inspirational with passion for development.
He said: “Obviously, this gathering is not about what we have done or what we ought to have done. I am quick to add, that, there is so much yet to be done. Yes, we are always in agreement that the interplay of THINK, PLAN AND ACT is a sure recipe to success; but the practice and process are not fully picked up in textbooks or lectures. Leadership must have passion and commitment for vision before it can be delivered as a product.
“The next fifty years must cut out a path for us to create a framework for leaders that are not only visionary but also inspirational with passion if Lagos must become a Smart City.
“Our State has made this commitment which has the potential to improve lives of our citizens, expand economic opportunities and access to critical public services. The Smart City initiative is Lagos Urban Development vision to integrate all sectors of governance into one box of growth and development – through efficient service delivery to each citizen.
“The future prosperity of Lagos is dependent on how well we can equip our children and youth with technological and educational skills they can use to develop the solutions of the future,” he said.
Besides, the Governor acknowledged the fact that for government to facilitate investment in infrastructure, it was imperative for a top notch public service to be in place, especially delivery of quality service by civil servants, saying that such would facilitate greater confidence in government from the private sector.
In his keynote address, Professor Paul Collier from Oxford University, said in its years of existence, Lagos has shown sustained and visible progress, and especially commended the leadership of the State over the years for moving in the right direction.
He commended Governor Ambode for his initiative on mass transportation, but recommended that it should be scaled up with the deployment of technology, while also calling for introduction of tax to stop people from driving private cars to already congested areas.
Collier, who is a development expert, also advocated for power issues to be addressed as well as clear legal and secured land ownership, saying that such was vital both for housing and commercial investment.
To address housing deficit, Collier said the State Government must plan for housing development through plots preparation, layout of streets, road network, storage, sewage, water and electricity, among others, while the private sector can develop the rest.
Also, other discussants – Mrs Mosun Bello- Olusoga, Chairman of Access Bank; Uyi Akpata, Managing Partner, PWc and Dayo Adelegan, President of British Nigeria Chamber of Commerce advocated for the globalization of the Lagos economy and proper environmental management initiatives.