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They came in a group, decked in blue Akara fabrics, with bright countenances and much expectation. They are members of Lagos State Council of Tradesmen and Artisan, LACOSTA, Alimosho. They were among the huge number of participants that converged at one of the expansive halls of De Santos Hotels, Akowonjo, Alimosho, on Monday, May 15th, for the much anticipated Alimosho Economic Summit- the first of its kind in the history of Alimosho Local Government Area, Lagos. The theme of the summit was, ‘Exploring Real Investment Opportunities, For Economic And Developmental Rebirth’. The summit is a an initiation of Abel Lazarus, publisher of The Alimosho Mail newspaper, a grassroots publication with support from Vintage Press Limited, publisher of The Nation Newspaper and Lagos State government. According to Lazarus, the essence of the summit was to discuss how Alimosho, being one of the largest local government areas in Nigeria, can be made economically vibrant. Some of the objectives of the summit include: to peruse the potentials and possibilities in Alimosho;to discuss the challenges and opportunities of multiple economic growth and development in Alimosho and its environs and to discuss the need for a creative policy-driven investable economic harmonization for public-to-private sector drive and partnership for local development areas. Dignitaries present at the summit include amongst others - Quadri Ganiyu, sole administrator, Alimosho LGA, Sam Omatseye ,chairman, Editorial Board, The Nation Newspaper, Akintunde Oyebode, executive secretary, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, LSETF, Ademola Osibeluwa, CDC Chairman Igando-Ikotun, Joel-Ezeogwu Nwanna, Chief Commercial Officer, ACCION Microfinance Bank, Kehinde Bamigbetan, special adviser to the Governor on Communities and Communications, Lagos State,Ojikutu Adeniyi,president, Computer and Allied Product Dealers Association of Nigeria, Ejioma Eze, Divisional Officer, NSCDC, Alausa, Ikeja,Adetokunbo Akinsola, Regional Head, Bank of Industry,BoI, Lagos among others. The event also drew many administrative officers as well as workers of all the LCDAs under Alimosho LGA, students, representatives of some government agencies, corporate organizations, security agencies ,Alimosho, politicians, representatives of Lagos State government, residents, among other stakeholders. The event started at exactly 10:28 a.m. with an opening address by Omotseye. He stressed that with the abundant human and material resources and other opportunities, Alimosho can be self-sustained, vibrant and serve as a model for other local government in the country. “You have a lot of customer-base here, it is just for you to tap into the opportunities”, he said. His address was followed by a presentation, ‘Alimosho City: An investment Haven waiting to be tapped, explored and expanded’. In the presentation, Nariwo Kayode, Business Development Manager, Liberal Consults,spoke glowingly about the potentialities of Alimosho LGA to blossom to one of the leading economic baselines in West Africa. One of the strengths of Alimosho identified in the presentation is population. According to Kayode,with an estimated average growth of 20,000 persons monthly, Alimosho now has a population of over 4 million people. In fact it was also revealed that 70 per cent of the immigrants in Lagos, move to Alimosho. The population figure has made Alimosho a decider in political calculations and a giant for economic considerations. Kayode noted that Alimosho LGA is a destination for real estate business with over 70 estates. Kayode believes Alimosho is well positioned in the comity of communities that abound in Lagos State with many entry and exit points. For instance, the LGA is about 5 minute-drive-distance from Ikeja, the capital of Lagos, it’s about 25 minute-drive-distance from FESTAC town and about 15-minute-drive distance from Surulere. “It is also close to routes out of the state into Ogun State through Agbado-Oke Odo LCDA, into Sango, Ado-Odo Ota, LGA of Ogun State. Alimosho also serves as route out of the country into Republic of Benin via Badagry into Seme Border, which is ten-minute-drive from Badagry on the coastal road between Lagos and Cotonou. Also, the proximity of Alimosho LGA to the prominent Murtala Mohammed International Airport, makes it an international destination to prospective investor”, he said. For ease of governance, Kayode said five local council development areas,LCDAa were carved out of Alimosho. They are Mosan-Okunola LCDA, Egbe-Idimu LCDA,Ipaja-Ayobo LCDA,Igando-Ikortun LCDA and Agbado-Oke-Odo LCDA. Beside population and proximity of the local government to some key commercial areas in and without Lagos State, it is believed that the planned construction of the N20 billion worth of standard ICT village at the location of the present second-hand products/clothes market in Kotangura, will go a long way in boosting the chances of the LGA in attracting investment. “ No doubt, Alimosho has positioned itself as a viable location for investors and businesses waiting to be tapped. The lack of infrastructure has remained one of the many excuses that has deprived this local government enough investment; but owing to the zeal of the current administration of governor Akinwunmi Ambode in community development, which he has so far been demonstrated by the approval of some basic infrastructure around the LGA, it is now a new dawn for Alimosho. Presenting the keynote address on theme of the summit, Akintunde Oyebode,Executive Secretary. LSETF,described Alimosho as a hub of consumer market in the state. He diligently reeled out some of the infrastructural developments carried out by the state government in Alimosho LGA. The LSETF boss also stressed the significant roles of MSMEs in the economic development of Alimosho. He said MSMEs present the propelling force of economic modernization and growth at large and are an important sector that needs to continue being adequately factored into policy making and programme implementation in every national and private sector development policy. “The growth potential of the sector and its critical role in all productive sectors, distribution and value chains can only be underscored”, he said. Oyebode revealed that LSETF has so far supported 223 resident s of Alimosho by financing 178 micro enterprises with the sum of N62,million and 45 small and medium enterprises with over N150 million. Despite this commendable gestures from the government, Oyebode said MSMEs and entrepreneurship will still have to overcome certain constraints to grow and compete in global markets. He mentioned lack of management skills, access to financing and technology. He expressed worry that most MSMEs focus on the production of traditional , low value-added goods with varying quality, serving local markets, and competing on the basis of price, hence, very few have the capacity to export and compete in international market. “They do not have any quality control system in place or follow quality control procedures that are in compliance with international quality certification systems and rarely invest heavily in technologies that will add to their products and overall economic perfomance, and exhibit low levels of technology utilization.” Oyebode also noted that the MSMEs are also constrained by some external factors like entry barriers, competition, policies, laws and regulations affecting business activities, which do not sufficiently consider the impact on smaller enterprises in their development and implementation. In addition to this, Oyebode emphasized high input cost, lack of appropriately skilled labour due to an education and training system that is not adequately preparing graduates with employability skills and the low commitment and investment in training workers. For MSMEs in Alimosho,Oyebode said research carried out by his organization found that the biggest challenges for business in Alimosho are access to finance and insufficient power supply. He said LSETF will continue to play its role of providing loans that do not require collateral at an affordable interest rate of 5 per cent per annum. He noted that the issue of power is beyond the full control of the state government, but expressed optimism that it can be resolved.Oyebode stressed that improving the MSMEs is key to the desired economic and developmental rebirth in Alimosho. First, Oyebode said market operators must determine the power needed by the residents and business and design a realistic plan to meet the demand, “it is important that consumers are also ready to play their part by paying the required price for this service”, he said. He added that land owners in Alimosho need to have proper titles of ownership, as well as training of Alimosho workforce in order to ensure businesses that operate in the environment have adequate supply of competent and skilled managers. Many of the participants agreed with the LSEFT boss on his submission about the need for regular power supply for economic growth in Alimosho. Sunday Ayodeji, is one of them. Ayodeji, a business man, said absence of power has forced many craftsmen to abandon their job and go into commercial motorcycling and tricycling popularly known as Keke Marwa. “Until we get power right in Alimosho we will continue to hold this summit and only little will be happening”, he said. Meanwhile, the residents of Ikotun -Igando LCDA, are already working towards that. They have engaged the service of a private energy company, Andrew D. Idowu &Co. to run a pilot programme of embedded power to the communities in few month’s time. Andrew Idowu, managing partner of the company was at the summit. In his presentation, Idowu said his company will be distributing 50,000 units of pre-paid meters free to the community. He stressed that Alimosho has everything that it takes to generate power, “gas pipeline passes through Igando, we have waste-to-energy development, there are several solid wastes mounted all over Alimosho and its sister LCDAs. You can generate up to two mega watts from all the refuse dumps in Igando-Ikotun alone”, he said. Idowu explained that embedded is a programme inaugurated by the last administration to run power community-based. “There is the Embedded Regulation of 2012 and we have the Independent Regulation Network of 2012,where by embedded generation companies can run power plants in communities. They will not run through the grid, they will run through the mini grids in the community, and the independent electricity distribution network will run their distribution network within the DISCOs purview. The DISCOs will just allocate location to them and they will be able to distribute within on behalf of the DISCOs. So they will pay the DISCOs for the use of the network and in that wise like Igando-Ikotun where we have six wards, we will now allocate six locations so that we manage ward A,B,C,D,E,F,G easily. As big as Lagos is, Ikeja DISCO cannot manage everything. Let them give them 50,000mw a day, they will still have challenges. Aside from generating powers, we are going to give out meters. No one company can run it, constellations of companies working into the value chain are coming on board. In generation we have four value chains, the generation areas, we have three value chains, the distribution itself, we have seven value chains. Without research of eight years that is what we came up with. We gave our presentation to National Electricity Regulatory Commission ,NERC ,they saw it and they approved that we should go ahead and do it.” “ Now we want to run a pilot of it in Igando-Ikotun and it is the first in the whole country to be run within the community not estate. All the ones we have been having are captives, we want to give it to every man on the street and we are working with Ikeja Electric,I.E, we are still discussing certain things and we are sure there is no going to be any problem to run. We have put into consideration daily consumption which is high, compared to night consumption which is very low, so we will know how to manage and what we generate in the night will be different from what generate in the day and we will be able to understand which is the peak period which is the low period. By then we will now have the accurate data of everybody that can be connected. Today we don’t have. We are going to curtail energy theft because you will use the service based on the amount on your card. It is like your recharge card.” Idowu however noted some of the challenges of power in Alimosho and perhaps in Nigeria. He listed cost of generating and financing power, unwillingness of consumers to pay, distribution challenges, metering maintenance among others. Ademola Osibeluwa, CDC chairman of Igando-Ikotun LCDA, expressed absolute belief in the workability and gains of the embedded power project. “The artisans will be happy work, businesses will thrive and people will be happy. Yes it will be expensive, but if it regular and stable, people will be willing to pay”, he said. The summit was split into three plenary sessions. The first session titled, Community Infrastructure and Security: Strategies, Hopes and Gains, was chaired by Quadri Ishola, sole administrator, Alimosho LGA. In his presentation, A.O. Akinyemi, who represented the lead speaker, Honourable Wasiu Anifowoshe, commissioner of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Lagos State, defined infrastructure as fundamental facilities necessary for the economy to function. It is usually characterized by technical structures such as roads, bridges, water supplies, sewers, electricity fittings, toilets, telecommunication and so on. “It can summarily be explained as physical components of inter-related system providing commodities and services essential to the people.”, he said. For Akinyemi, the availability and consistency of infrastructures are key to achieving economic vibrancy in Alimsoho. With this submission, he said the state government has not failed the people of Alimosho in this regards. He also took time to highlight a number of infrastructural projects carried out by the state government around Alimosho since the administration of Bola Tinubu, the former governor of the Lagos State. In his presentation, Akinyemi also listed some to the factors that have brought about the rapid growth of Alimosho. He mentioned access to international coast lines, international airport, access to Ikeja central business district via Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, access to Lagos Island and Lagos Mainland, availability of lands for agriculture and industrial uses; series of infrastructures and ongoing projects around the LGA. He promised that the government will continue to provide basic infrastructures to improve living standards and economic development of Alimosho towards achieving the mega city status. Speaking in indigenous language, Idowu who was also a member of the panel, reemphasized the importance, benefits and reliability of the embedded power projects. He said that though it will be expensive, it will always be available and Ishola, promised to discuss with him after the event so that other LCDAs can tap into the initiative. Another member of the panel was Eze Ejioma, divisional officer, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps,NSCDC,Alausa,Ikeja. She stressed the role of security in ensuring economic development of Alimosho. She said critical infrastructural facilities must be protected. “To do this, the people in each community must relate and open up to security agencies. They must see the facilities as theirs, they will know the bad elements among them, we need information to act”. Ejioma said Alimosho has the highest number of pipelines running through it and there have been incidents of pipeline vandalisation, “so for all these strategies to thrive we all have roles to play in protecting the facilities”, she said. The session ended with question from audience. First to speak was Jarinatu Amida, chairperson, LACOSTA, Alimosho. She complained about the incessant power failure. “Even if the government empowers us with loan, without power to work, how can we be able to pay back”, she queried. Amida also complained of marginalization of Alimosho artisans during government-sponsored programmes and regular training for her members across the LGA. There were other questions and comments bothering on fake traffic officers in Alimosho and access to loans and the sole administrator promised to do something about the fake local government workers. The second plenary session was titled, SMEs in Agribusiness, Transportation, and Local Content:Way forward for communities. Adetokunbo Akinsola, Regional Head, Bank of Industry,BoI,Lagos,headed the session on behalf of Waheed Olagunju, Ag. Managing Director, BoI.Adeyemi Ajayi,partner,Peniel Consulting was the lead speaker. He began his speech by providing facts and figures to assert the declining state of unemployment in Nigeria and the county’s over-reliance on foreign goods and services. “We produce 25 per cent of our food and we shamelessly import fruits from Cotonou”. Ajayi spoke about the opportunities that abound in the agribusiness, ranging from food preservation to other forms of farming and the chain values. Ajayi said funding should not be seen as challenge, “because you can start small with your savings, you can also raise capital through loans”. He ascribed failure in transportation business to poor management. “One of the reasons we fail is because we treat the drivers and other staff as slaves, whereas we are suppose to treat them like business partner.”, he said. Joel-Ezeogwu Nwanna, chief commercial officer, ACCION Microfinance Bank in her address, said six out of 30 branches of the bank are located in Alimosho LGA. She however noted that unfaithfulness of micro entrepreneurs discourages microfinance banks from providing loans. She noted that one of the basic problems of entrepreneur is the lack of financial discipline. “ We need to learn to separate our lives from the business. Accountability matters a lot in any business”. Nwanna added that her bank has found out that most of the time those who come for loans don’t actually need loan at that stage what they actually need is re-strategizing and financial discipline. Meanwhile, representative of Honourable commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Rotimi Ogunleye, spoke about the commercial and industrial potentials of Alimosho. He stressed that Alimosho was due for establishment of Alimosho Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The question and answer in this session focused more on accessing loans in microfinance bank and Nwanna re-emphasized the need for faithfulness, financial disciplien and other basic requirements for accessing loans in ACCION,like age, residence permit, consent of spouse, nature of business, amount involved and so on. Also, Askinsola responded to questions on modalities of for accessing BoI loans and its areas of specialization. The third plenary session was more like a speech delivery only, because most of the invited panelists could not make it to the summit, except for Kehinde Bamigbetan, special adviser to the governor on Communities and Communications and Ojikutu Adeniyi, president , Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria,CAPDAN. Bamigbetan commended the organizers and assured the audience that the state government will continue to work towards the promotion of economic development of Alimosho. Speaking on the session topic, How Do We Harness Public Private Partnership in ICT to Transform Lagos State From Alimosho Community? Adeniyi said ICT is critical to the economic rebirth of not only Alimosho but the whole country. He reminisced how the popular Computer Village in Ikeja began with young men, “as at 1994 the available computer in Nigeria were not up to ten thousand, now things have changed, and we are still trying to catch up with the rest of the world. We need to double our efforts in ICT training and Alimosho should have holistic approach towards ICT promotion if it is truly serious about the economic rebirth. You could start by training youths especially in software development and later move to other parts”, he said. Soji Omotunde of The Nation Newspaper, made the closing remarks. He urged the participants, especially government representative and other stakeholders to put all that have been said into action and play their roles, so that the desired economic growth and development will be realized in due time. Meanwhile a number of participants applauded the organizers of the summit. One of them was Modupe Akinleye, secretary, Lagos State Council of Tradesmen and Artisan, LACOSTA, Alimosho. “This is my first time of attending a programmed like this and I am very impressed. I leant a lot of things, especially concerning power, accessing loan, Agribusiness. On the issue of financial discipline, when I get back home I will let my people know that they need to learn to cut their coat according to their sizes. That they need to be prudent in their finances and many other things”. She advised the organizers not to relent and do more. Another participant who simply gave his name as Femi Ogunsola, a business man, said the summit has exposed him to some certain thing in agribusiness, “which I will begin to work towards. If an event such as this can be sustained and their recommendations are carried out, Alimosho will be greater, because already we have over 200,000 MSMEs in this local government”, he said. Ogunsola however said the organizer should have invited more of captains of industry, industrialists, CEOs and other potential investors. To this, Lazarus, publisher of The Alimosho Mail and initiator, said, “we are quite aware of this. We had hitches and we had to postpone the event about three times, this created a kind of confusion for the invited CEOs. But so far so good for a maiden edition of a community event like this to have in presence the likes of Akintunde Oyebode, of LSETF, I will give myself a plus. I am fulfilled and there is always a room for improvement. “, he said.

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