Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State says opportunities abound in the Africa-Caribbean relationship being fostered through the African Export Import Bank ( Afreximbank) AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF).
Sanwo-Olu spoke to the media on the sideline of the 2nd AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2023), being hosted in Georgetown, Guyana, from Oct. 30 to 31, by the Afreximbank and Government of Guyana (GoG).
The forum has the theme: ”Creating a Shared Prosperous Future”.
The ACTIF23 focuses on consolidating commercial collaboration between the Caribbean region and Africa, for increased inter-regional trade and investment, following the first edition held in September 2022 in Barbados.
“It is a straight travel down here; seven hours to eight hours 45 minutes air trip. That is even from Lagos. If you take it from Dakar , or Banjul, Gambia; Guinea, it would be about three hours or so.
“So, what that means is that the Caribbeans, South America, is closest to West Africa.
“If we have trade, it is going to take you far less a time to be able to send goods down to the Caribbean directly, compared to going to North America or to go to Europe before it gets to the Caribbean.
“So, all of that in itself presents an opportunity that we all need to sit back and reflect on.
“The population might not be there but the opportunities are enormous, in the oil and gas, airlines, if it is in manufacturing, tourism among others,” the governor said.
According to him, his government runs the largest economy in Nigeria, hence the need for him to explore frontiers that can further grow Lagos State.
“I run the largest economy in our country right now and if you begin to smell opportunities like this, in the Caribbean Islands, we need to come and look at it very well.
“I am happy with the Heads of Government and the commitments they have given in all of the trade support they want to give to their local businesses, to African businesses and to the partnership that we can grow and develop.
“Afreximbank is showing the lead in this area.
“The least will be to encourage them, help them open these frontiers and help them see the benefits that they can both enjoy with the two regions and cultural values through collaborations like this,” he said.