By Odunewu Segun
During the week, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a sister publication of The Economist of London in its latest report described Lagos as the second worst global city to live anywhere in the world — after Damascus in war-torn Syria.
The report ranked 140 global cities based on criteria grouped into five main categories: stability and security; health care; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure.
The Australian city of Melbourne came out as the world’s most livable city, ahead of the Austrian capital, Vienna, and Canada’s Vancouver. Both Australia and Canada had three cities each in the top 10. Hamburg in Germany; the Finnish capital, Helsinki; and Auckland, New Zealand, made up the rest.
Conversely, five of the 10 least livable cities—Douala in Cameroon; Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare; Algiers in Algeria; Libya’s Tripoli; and Lagos—were located on the African continent. Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka; Karachi in Pakistan; and Port Moresby, capital of Papau New Guinea, were also among the worst, while Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, was the only European city in the bottom 10.
Lagos received a particularly low rank in the category of stability due to insecurity. Kidnapping remains a significant risk, and Lagos state reported the highest number of crimes in the country in 2016.
The city also scored poorly on education and health care. As a country, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world, and the country also lacks an effective health care system. It has one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the world, a measure usually considered a key barometer of health care effectiveness.
While Nigeria as a whole is mired in recession amid low oil prices and reduced output, Lagos remains a beacon of economic hope in an otherwise impoverished wilderness.
The state has an economy larger than most African countries, despite being one of the smallest states in the country by area. Unlike much of Nigeria, Lagos is not entirely dependent on oil: Manufacturing, transport, construction and retail are all substantial contributors to the state’s economy.
The rise of the city, dubbed Silicon Lagoon in tech circles, has not gone unnoticed by the great and good of the sector. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg visited Lagos in August 2016, in a ringing endorsement of the city’s tech scene, which was backed up by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative investing $24 million in Nigerian startup Andela.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai followed Zuckerberg’s lead with a surprise visit to Lagos in July, where he announced that the company planned to train 10 million African people in IT skills.
In the area of transport, the Lagos state government has promised an urban rail system to lighten the burden on Lagos’s roads, although the first phase of this has been delayed since 2011.
The state is also home to Nigeria eclectic and rapidly growing film industry-Nollywood, providing hours of cheap entertainment for Nigerians and, increasingly other African viewers.
The Lagos state government has also proposed a 13-year development plan due for completion in 2025, that aims to revolutionize the city’s economy, infrastructure and social services to meet the needs of what it predicts will be a city population of almost 30 million.