By Florence Onuegbu
The Lagos State Government has called for partnership with the Nordic countries to tackle economic challenges facing the state.
Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu made the call on Tuesday in Lagos during the Nordic-Nigeria Connect Conference on Smart City and Circular Economy organised by the Embassies of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland in Nigeria.
Sanwo-Olu said that Lagos was confronted with all the challenges facing large cities around the world such as transportation, waste management, housing, access to healthcare and education, jobs and the impact of climate change.
He said that like everywhere else in the world, what really mattered was not so much the problems and challenges, as much as the willingness to find lasting solutions that are truly innovative.
According to him, finding lasting solutions to problems and challenges must be the focus of governments and private sector.
”I believe that there is so much we can learn from one another, in terms of finding solutions to the many common challenges that we face, as economies, as cities and as countries,” he said.
The governor said that Lagos State was doing a lot to promote innovation that would help mitigate its environmental challenges.
Speaking on waste management, Sanwo-Olu said that the state generated approximately 13,000 metric tonnes of solid waste daily.
Sanwo-Olu said that to achieve the levels of efficiency required in managing waste in a city like Lagos, the private sector must be front-and-centre, while the government focused on regulation and support, by way of infrastructure and technical capacity.
He said that this year had seen one of the largest ever public investments in waste management infrastructure in Lagos State, to support the work of the Private Sector Participants (PSPs), who were citizen-facing and on the frontlines.
Sanwo-Olu said that government was building new transfer loading stations for LAWMA; also revamping existing compost facilities, renewing waste management fleet, and assisting the private sector with fleet renewal as well.
He said that very importantly, beyond new infrastructure, a mind-set change among the populace was a necessity.
”By this, I mean introducing our people to new ways of thinking about waste, and new habits regarding use and re-use, and the immense possibilities of recycling.
”For those who know Lagos and Nigeria well, you will know that we are heavy users of plastic materials. So, there is a lot of work ahead of us in terms of educating the public about the responsible use and disposal of plastic.
”This brings me to the wealth-creation potential of waste. 13,000 metric tonnes of waste daily is not only a challenge that must be dealt with, but equally a significant asset.
”It is an opportunity for the creation of jobs and wealth, in sorting, composting, recovery, repairs, recycling — and every other related concept that a truly circular economy would encompass.
”Following the huge investments we have made in the waste management sector, as well as the transformation of our waste management practices over the last two years, we have been able to create no fewer than 41,000 direct and indirect jobs in that period of time.
”Furthermore, with the advent of recycling and other waste management streams, we envisage there will be about 6,000 additional jobs being created annually,” the governor said.
The New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that about 60 Nordic and 100 Nigerian companies are participating in the event focusing on waste and wastewater management, green energy, green transportation. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)