By Babajide Komolafe
Globally, there is quest for new and bold measures on the part of policymakers to reverse the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the national economy and welfare of the people.
This quest is reflected in the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its World Economic Outlook, October 2020.
“The path ahead will require skillful domestic policies that manage trade-offs between lifting near-term activity and addressing medium-term challenges.
“Besides combating the deep near-term recession, policymakers have to address complex challenges to place economies on a path of higher productivity growth while ensuring that gains are shared evenly and debt remains sustainable,” the IMF said.
This is even more urgent in Nigeria. The nation’s economic activities, as measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been projected by the IMF to contract by 4.4 percent in 2020. More people, about five million Nigerians are expected to fall into poverty, due to widespread unemployment, rising prices of goods and services triggered by 27 percent naira devaluation.
Meanwhile governments at every level are contending with steep fall in revenue prompted by the sharp decline in crude oil prices caused by the impact of the pandemic on global crude oil demand.
The need to reduce the negative impact of these development and revive economic growth has led to rapid deployment of some policy measures by the Federal Government and some state governments.
However, most of these measures, especially at the state level are short term in nature, whilst what is required is new set of policy framework that will provide the impetus for economic growth and development in the new digitally driven world expected to emerge in the post Covid-19 era.
The Lagos Economic Summit initiative
This prompted the Lagos State Government to revive its annual economic summit, which was last held in 2015.
Tagged ‘Ehingbeti,’ the summit which started in 2000, is acknowledged as the first institutionalised economic forum by any state in Nigeria. Ehingbeti is a public-private sector roundtable that started as a collaborative effort between the Lagos State Government and Business Club Ikeja.
Ehigbeti 2020 is scheduled to hold virtually from November 10 to 12, with the theme ‘For a Greater Lagos: Setting the Tone for The Next Decade’.
Speaking on timeliness of the 2020 summit in the light of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chairman of Citi Bank Nigeria, Yemi Cadoso, who is also a Co-Chair of Ehingbeti 2020, Ehingbeti 2020, said: “It is timely that this happening and I say that because Covid-19 and its aftermath has wreaked havoc in economies around the world and we are no exception to that and when it going to end nobody knows.
“All we know is that countries around the world, pay dearly from being on lockdown and for any lockdown, you have a corresponding loss in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). With the challenges ahead and Lagos being the economic nerve center of the country, there is a large responsibility to ensure that they protect the citizens of the state and this is something that can’t happen unless it is planned for.
“So, it is a great opportunity for we in the private sector to come together with the government again to show what Lagos is truly made off and show what Lagos can truly do in the most difficult and challenging circumstances of which we are in.”
Roadmap for More Prosperity
Noting that the Lagos Economic summit, was birthed and has always been driven by partnership between the Lagos State Government and the private sector, Mr. Sam Egube, the Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, said that the goal of the 2020 summit is to design a resilient roadmap to more prosperity for Lagos state and then to facilitate the spirit of sharing and co-creation that can happen when people work together.
“What Lagos state government is trying to do is stimulate contribution from the private sector, get them interested in the governance of the state and lead the way in terms of the outcomes,” he said.
Also speaking on the expectations from Ehingbeti 2020, Solape Hammond, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Investments, said, “the Ehingbeti 2020 summit has three broad objectives which include: Creating an enabling environment for a most needed conversation about Lagos and the way forward for Lagos in terms of growth and development;
Use it as opportunity to showcase Lagos to the world, hence the decision to hold it on a virtual platform; and also to hear from Lagosians, especially the younger people.”