Despite the widespread talk of recession and the apparent contraction in the Nigerian economy, foreign interest in Nigerian economy remains strong which explains why the international community has not relented in exploring opportunities for cultural cooperation and cross border trade, particularly where visionary and iconic projects such as the Gracefield Island is involved.
The British Government, for instance, is actively looking at Africa with a view to expanding opportunities for British companies. However, in order to achieve worthwhile result, the government, through its High Commission, is being very deliberate in identifying significant infrastructure project such as the Gracefield Island in Lekki, Lagos. This was highlighted during a visit recently by the new British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils and her team to the Gracefield Island.
An ambitious 21st Century project, so far the first of its kind in Africa, Gracefield Island is a new urban community rising on the shores of the Lagos Lagoon. Developed and promoted by Gravitas Investment Limited, this island project involves the reclamation and development of a new metropolis offering a prime place for an exceptional live, work and play environment.
Receiving the diplomat, Olufemi Babalola, the Chief Executive of Gravitas, expressed his delight at the interest of the British Government, but called attention to the fact that despite the international nature of the Gracefield Island reclamation and development project, there is very little involvement of British companies in this multi-million dollar project.
Babalola emphasised that the recession in Nigeria would bottom out in the next couple of months, and it is companies and governments that are resilient that will maximise the advantages that will come with improvement in the economy.
Beaufils looks forward to a new order in world economy that will see increased trade and improved cooperation between Britain and Nigeria.
When he led his country’s Director of Trade and Commerce on a visit to the Island a few months ago, Bashir Ahmed, the out-going British Deputy High Commissioner, noted that “this is an ambitious project and I see a number of British companies coming here not just to set up businesses but also to make a difference”.
Babalola described Gracefield Island is a forward looking new city development; a luxury island development, so far, the first of its kind in Nigeria that can only be likened to Dubai’s Palmtree Island.
“This project presents a unique opportunity with multiplier effects on the economy”, he said, citing examples of several technical partnership and development relationships that were driving progress on the new Island city even at its early stage of construction.
According to him, one of the many exciting things happening on this project is the opportunity that it affords young and talented Nigerians to excel, explaining that these young Nigerians have platform to express their talent and task their knowledge.
It is hoped that the project, by its nature, will attract talent from all around the globe and afford training opportunity to Nigerians right across the world. “IoT (Internet of Things) is a key feature of the Gracefield Island, and to ensure that this happens, Gravitas is already establishing support programme with three leading universities in Nigeria. The business park on the Island is planned to be an enterprise and wealth creation centre, where new ideas will be generated and existing ideas honed even better for remarkable creativity”, Babalola assured.
This, essentially, is an island that is rich in meaning and visually appropriate. Movement here is focused on walking and public transport which also allows private car circulation and sufficient parking in a manner that eases pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow.
The intermodal transportation plan for the island city provides for cycling and various means of water transport and, in addition to this, there is a marina on the north-western point of the island that contributes to the quality environment and provides a recreational facility that enhances the value of plots in that zone.
In doing all this, Babalola is optimistic that, even in the current economic climate in Nigeria, there is tremendous opportunity for cross-border trade and cooperation between companies with high profile projects such as Gracefield Island and the international business community.