Lagos among 25 most innovative cities in the world

Lagos may soon overtake Johannesburg as Africa’s business hub, the organisation said.

Despite being weighed down by decaying and inadequate infrastructure, Lagos State has made the shortlist of the 25 most innovative cities in the world.

Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, made the final cut from an initial pool of 75 cities.

The search to pick the world’s most innovative city in 2012 is organised by Urban Land Institute (ULI), an authoritative and widely quoted source of objective information on urban planning, growth, and development in the world. The competition is sponsored by Citi Group, with media support from the Wall Street Journal.

According to ULI, despite the global financial crisis, each shortlisted city has “maintained innovative mindset, and the capacity to adapt and re-imagine itself.”

It’s Fashola’s performance

A statement from the organisers indicates that the effort of the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, and is team, is the main reason for the state’s positive rating.

“These 25 cities have stepped up to the challenge – the scale and scope of avenues they have pursued since 2008 exhibit a sustained and growing commitment to development,” ULI said.

Mr. Fashola has been the state governor since May 2007.

The institute stated that the shortlisted cities have provided “new avenues, whether in structure, scope or timing, reflect remarkable, forward-thinking decisions on the part of municipal leadership.”

City of Potentials

Lagos made the cut due to what the organisation described as the city’s economic potential, progress and investment climate.

ULI described Lagos as one of the “Big 5” cities in Africa and projected the city to soon over take Johannesburg as the continent’s business hub.

“The city is Nigeria’s ‘gate to the sea’ accounting for 80 per cent of national seaport activity. Lagos GDP is $33 billion (N5 trillion) and accounts for roughly 25 per cent of Nigeria’s overall GDP.”

With 18 million inhabitants, Lagos is the most populated of the 25 cities. The only other African city that made the cut is Cape Town in South Africa.

Other cities on the list are London (UK), Shenzhen (China), Medelin (Colombia), Copenhagen (Denmark), Raleigh-Durham (USA), Toronto (Canada), Melbourne (Australia), Bratislavia (Slovakia), Hong Kong, San-Francisco (USA), Chicago (USA) and Berlin (Germany).

Completing the list are New York, Shanghai (China), Hamburg (Germany), Atlanta (USA), Tel Aviv (Israel), Boston (USA), Vancouver (Canada), Seattle (USA), Vienna (Austria), Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Singapore.

ULI will announce the final shortlist of three on October 25 while the winning city will be announced January 24, 2013.

City of contradiction

This generous assessment of the city by ULI will certainly cheer the state government. However, many Lagos residents will take it with a pinch of salt.

Lagos is notorious for heavy traffics. Residents can spend up to six hours in traffic during rush hour. This they blame on decaying road network and congestion. The government has embarked on road rehabilitation in recent years, but with the absence of a viable mass transit plan, their efforts have been inadequate.

Though it is the country’s financial hub, Lagos suffers from mass unemployment, insecurity, poor infrastructure, and so on.

In April, The Economist Intelligence Unit ranked the city as the third worst/least liveable city in the world in its Global Liveability Survey.

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