As Fashola boosts Lagos’ night economy

Various people view night time from di­verse angles and perspectives. While some see the night as a pe­riod associated with danger, immorality or something sin­ister, others see it in positive terms as the ideal time for socialization, merry making and partying. In some organ­isations, government and business circles, very crucial issues are often discussed during the night. Also, in the political and corporate are­na, some crucial decisions are usually taken at night. To politicians and others whose enterprise involves working out deft strategies to out­smart competitors, no other time is better to maneuver than the night.

In most major cities of the world, socio-economic activities take place around the clock. This is especially true of cities in de­veloped countries where they op­erate a 24 hours socio-economic system. In most of these cities, the contribution of the night economy in the overall social and economic development of the respective country cannot, in any way, be over emphasised. In such cit­ies, different people have various places where people interact, play, consume, produce and engage in other social and business activi­ties deep into belly of the night.

New research from across the world has indicated that many cities over the past two decades have deliberately revived night life as a renewal strategy to tap into the socio-economic poten­tials of the night. The hospital­ity and entertainment industries, in particular, thrive during the night. Entertainment spots such as restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, cinemas, casinos, concert halls, theatres and licensed clubs make more businesses in the course of the night. This is particularly because high flying business ex­ecutives and others who have worked hard in the day often love to unwind at night. It should, however, be stressed that other socio-economic activities that are non-hospitality and non-enter­tainment related also take place at night. These include, among oth­ers, the printing industry, clean­ing services, education, govern­ment services, retailing, baking and other forms of food prepa­ration, and logistics activities.

In Lagos State, the vision of the Babatunde Raji Fashola ad­ministration has always been to make Lagos the Africa’s Model Megacity & Global Economic and Financial Hub. This can only become a reality if every minute of the 24 hours in a day is effec­tively utilized across all sectors in the State. At the outset, the chal­lenge before the Fashola Admin­istration in this respect was how to breathe life into the comatose night economy of the State. This was eventually achieved through the resourceful establishment of Independent Power Plants at key locations across the State. This is quite strategic as the power re­quirements of Lagos was estimat­ed at about 10,000-12,000 MW, a sharp contrast to the less than 1,000MW available to Lagos State from the national grid. This situa­tion has propelled many people to self-help, compelling them to be generators of their own electricity, resulting in emergence of all man­ners of domestic power generating sets. This has resulted in very high cost of electricity which unfortu­nately accounts for 30 per cent of operating costs of any business.

It is exactly in order to reverse the trend that the Fashola Admin­istration came up with the idea of Independent Power Projects, IPP. Presently, five of such have been commissioned for use at Ikoro­du, Akute, Lagos Island, Lekki and Ikeja. As it is often the case with every people oriented pro­gramme, the provision of these power plants is already having a positive impact on the Lagos night economy. Some of the help­ful spin-offs of the restored night economy include the fact that essential services could now be gotten into the very deep hours of the night. Not only are night businesses now running and giv­ing impetus for socio-economic growth, nite clubs, hotels, hospi­tality facilities have been giving a new lease of life in the State.

Several places and landmarks like the Carter Bridge, a very critical bypass into Lagos Island, which was abandoned for many years for security concerns, has now been lit just like Simpson Street in Lagos and the Ramp on Marina close to the Third Main­land Bridge. Recently, about 300 km of public lighting was ac­complished by the State govern­ment at various locations in the State and the enormous economic benefits of this, especially on the State’s night economy, can­not be over emphasised. Market women who hitherto closed at 5 or 6 pm because of poor vis­ibility and other allied concerns now carry out their trading ac­tivities into the wee hours of the night with its resultant economic advantages. Recent research by the Lagos State Ministry of Bud­get and Economic Planning has revealed that night economy in the state has already improved by over 50percent. The beauty of it is that the improved night economy has positive implications for all classes of economic activities.

Perhaps more significant is the fact that by many measures, in terms of crime management and security, night activities in Lagos have become relatively stable. To­day, if compared to cities like Cai­ro, Nairobi and Johannesburg, the security indicators for Lagos are high up despite the fact that there is still work to be done. Happily, the State government is not resting on its oars as the long term plan is to create a vibrant and safe night­life for Lagos that offers some­thing for everyone – from a street bar with live music, a mechanic service, fashion businesses, to an all-hours bookshop. Lagos has the largest night time economy in the country. This is why the State gov­ernment has developed a strategy to ensure Lagos’ night-time econ­omy is more diverse, better con­nected, inviting and safe. A major part of the strategy’s development came out of extensive consulta­tions with the local business com­munity; other stakeholders which included residents, focus groups, representatives from the retail, li­quor and entertainment sectors as well as key private sector leaders.

By 2025, it is expected that the State’s night-time economy will be transformed away from a focus on younger people and entertainment. It is hoped that 40% of people taking advantage of the improved night activities in the State will be aged over 40 and that 40% of operating busi­nesses at this time will be chiefly anchored on formal business con­cerns. This is why the State gov­ernment is encouraging a larger variety of retailers and attrac­tions to stay open late, to broaden people’s choices of things to do at night. By 2025, the State hopes to double its night-time turnover and increase night-time employ­ment by 55% to 200,000 jobs.

Without a doubt, if the pres­ent efforts at transforming night economy in the State, as being spearheaded by the Fashola Ad­ministration, is further enhanced and sustained by subsequent administrations in the State, La­gos and, indeed, the country as a whole, would be the better for it.

.Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Informa­tion & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.


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