21 February 2010

Nigeria: Challenges of Lagos As a Mega-City

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While by 1971, some Nigerian urban centers were growing at an annual rate of 2-3 percent, Lagos metropolis was experiencing a growth of 14 percent (Lagos Executive Development Board, 1971).

By 1978, the population of Metropolitan Lagos had risen to 3.8 million, and by 1979 it was 4.13 million. The various economic activities encouraged population growth. This phenomenal population growth was not due to natural increase alone but also to rural-urban migration and foreign immigration. The migrants are mainly in their reproductive years and are in search of better opportunities.

Lagos remained the nation's administrative capital till December 1991, when the seat of government moved to Abuja. However, up till now it is still the nation's nerve centre for economic activities, and it has the status of the financial center of West Africa. It is centre of gravity for professionals, semiprofessionals, skilled and unskilled labour and also unfortunately criminals! Lagos also has a vibrant and aggressive informal economic sector.

Lagos continued to grow and by 1997 the Metropolis had a population of 11.85 million. Lagos Metropolis is presently estimated to have a population of 17 million persons out of a national estimate of 150 million. By the year 2015, the population of Lagos Metropolis is projected to be 24.4 million, becoming the third largest city in the world. Mumbai (formerly Bombay) will be second largest at 27.4 million, and Tokyo will be the most populous city with 28.7 million inhabitants.

Metropolitan Lagos which presently takes up about 37 percent of the area of Lagos State; is home to over 85 percent of the state population, and covers an area of about 1,183 km out of the 3,577km total area of Lagos State. An area of 455km of this is water body, wet land and mangrove swamps. Metropolitan Lagos is located on the South-Western coast of Nigeria along the Bight of Benin between Latitudes 60 and 70 North of the Equator and between Longitudes 30 and 40 East of Greenwich. (See Fig. 2) The central core (City of Lagos), which is the oldest part, covers an area of 70km.

Urbanisation in Lagos Metropolis

The Master Plan for Metropolitan Lagos (1980-2000) anticipated that the metropolis will expand ultimately to about 3,885km, or about ten times its 1981 area extent, as Ikorodu and part of Badagry in Lagos State, and parts of Ogun State adjacent to Lagos; effectively become integral parts of the rapidly expanding metropolitan area.

The rapid population growth in Lagos Metropolis poses a number of problems in the urban area, which includes pressure on the land, shortage of housing and growth of slums, lack of housing finance, and failure of the urban community as a whole to adapt to changing conditions occasioned by the influx of migrants to its institutional and social services. The population increase has a direct impact on land use; it results in the demand for more land.

As at 1976, there was 16,177 hectares of built-up area in Metropolitan Lagos. Industry had occupied a significant proportion of the metropolis, and this gave rise to new problems such as heavy traffic and industrial pollution.

The Lagos Megacity Region

A megacity is a status conferred by the United Nations and the international system on cities with 10 million persons and above. It is a city with complex functions, and with ability to influence regional and global economies.

The Lagos mega-city region is largely the product of the current urbanization and globalisation process in Nigeria, with its promotion of the free market economy, information and communication technology, interstate and transnational corporations and high mobility of financial and human resources.

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