Megacity Lagos

Megacity Lagos

Public Private Partnerships and the Informal Sector

Lagos State government increasingly ventures into Public Private Partnerships to provide infrastructure in forms of roads, waste management, water supply; even complete residential and commercial “city” projects are outsourced. A very controversial development is the rebuilding of open markets by private developers disrupting decade old economic and social patterns in the informal sector

By Gbenga Komolafe

Versage: contemporary Nigerian knock-off designer street wear

Versage is an exploration of low-end globalization and global inequality; contemporary Nigerian fashion and the people behind it; the notion of cheapness; the complexity of the concept of "Made in China"; the creolization of taste; and when mimicry becomes its own aesthetic. See how Versage trade is working on the streets of Lagos

By Allyn Gaestel

Public Participation and Struggles for Sustainable Spaces in the Community

Plumes of smoke, splintered wood and twisted pieces of corrugated iron, surrounded by mounds of debris were frequent roadside sightings in 2016 around Eti Osa Local Government in Lagos State. At times these periodic demolitions of roadside shops and markets caused one to stop in ones tracks because they actually resembled bomb sites in a war zone, where destruction takes place without any immediate moves to remove the ugly damage...  

By Kofo Adeleke

The Working Poor in the Informal Sector and Their Contribution to the Urban Economy

Market women and informal traders in Lagos contribute massively to the urban economy of the city; through payment of various taxes and levies but also through sustaining transport, construction, food and other sectors, even in times of deep recession. They contribute their share to the internally generated revenue and therefore should expect in return social services in form of local infrastructure, access to low interest credit etc.

Strategic projects and tactical interventions for urban development in West Africa

The approach of the Makoko Neighborhood Hotspot intends to demonstrate that low-tech, flexible, low-cost and strategic yet precise interventions can increase the share of urban consumers and taxpayers which again increases the city’s overall welfare – opposite to the often implemented top-down, investment intensive and heavily donor or elite-driven big-infrastructure solutions as they have mostly failed in (West-) Africa.

By Fabienne Hoelzel

Bikeable City Lagos

Lagos is a city relying heavily on road use by private cars and public buses.  With the growth of population, inadequate maintenance of the road network, badly maintained cars, insufficient public transport planning, and weak policies on pollution & climate change, roads are congested and pollution is on the rise. It is therefore timely to explore possibilities for introducing cycling as a sustainable non-motorized transportation mode for Lagos which also enhances mobility for the urban poor and increases interaction among nearly all groups. Just like investing in an efficient public transport system, investing in cycling entails social, economic and environmental benefits for cities.

Urban Planning Processes in Lagos

The publication is the result of a year long research process led by Fabulous Urban, Zurich, with local experts and final year students’ examining the relation between urban policies, urban interventions, the role of governance and the different actors in Lagos. The publication looks at four case studies with  detailed overviews, graphics and analysis demonstrating that strategic adjustments in the overall politics and policies guiding the urban development of Lagos are needed to reach out to   all Lagos residents  who is at the center of the urban and economic development.

Open City Lagos

The publication “Open City Lagos”, a cooperation with Nsibidi Institute Lagos and Fabulous Urban Zurich, intends to initiate a public reflection and discourse on the characteristics of an “open city” where the co-existence of different social groups and the richness of cultural diversity come together to foster growth that is diverse, equitable, creative, sustainable and inclusive.

Opening Cermony in Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Community

On December 12, 2015, the Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Community celebrated the opening of the first neighborhood hotspot. The construction was initiated and supervised by Fabulous Urban, a Swiss architect and urban design firm, with funds from the Swiss Embassy Nigeria. Townplanner Aro Ismaila and Architect Mo Ajala completed the expert team and the community carpenters and artisans built the centre between April and September 2015.

Understanding Business On The Streets of Lagos

In its efforts to increase its internally generated revenue and to be less dependent from dwindling federal resources, the Government of Lagos made several unsuccessful attempts to tax small business owners in the informal sector, writes Adeolu Adesanya. It’s through a participatory approach that the Government finally succeeded in integrating the informal sector into its taxation system.

By Adeolu Adesanya

Lagos and Its Potentials for Economic Growth

If taken as a country on its own, Lagos would be amongst the largest economies in Africa. It has been able to diversify its economy and to considerably reduce its dependence on oil allocations. But its potentials are still huge if it invested in skilled labour force, reduced its bureaucratic hurdles and adopted an inclusive development approach.

By Dr. Ijeoma Nwagwu and Tamilore Oni

Learning from Lagos: A City of New Meaning

From everyday encounters to planning considerations, Kingsley Iweka shares his reflections on the city of Lagos drawing from recent conversations at the Heinrich Boll and Nsibidi Institute’s Open City Lagos Brainstorming Brunch held in April 2015. As one of the project’s shortlisted candidates, he speaks within his personal capacity as a writer coming to terms with how the city accommodates the subjects of his prose.

By Kingsley Iweka

The City For All

Lagos is a dynamic, teeming city of over 15 million inhabitants and counting. Even with strained access to services and a housing stock far outpaced by the city’s growth, Lagos remains a magnet for those in other Nigerian states and neighboring West African countries. With an estimated 600,000 people added each year, openness appears to be a defining feature of Lagos. Yet the concept of openness encompasses more than just urban migration and the city’s ability to absorb this influx. It refers to inclusion in terms of the quality of social, economic and spatial conditions in the city.

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Open City Lagos

The publication “Open City Lagos”, a cooperation with Nsibidi Institute Lagos and Fabulous Urban Zurich, intends to initiate a public reflection and discourse on the characteristics of an “open city” where the co-existence of different social groups and the richness of cultural diversity come together to foster growth that is diverse, equitable, creative, sustainable and inclusive.

Makoko Neighborhood Hotspot

The hotspot is an integral part of the Makoko/Iwaya Regeneration plan developed in a participatory approach with the community and local and international professionals. To read more about the colourful opening ceremony and the Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront community

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Makoko-Iwaya Waterfront Economic Opportunities


The Makoko-Iwaya Waterfront regeneration plan is a comprehensive people centered development framework. The major objective is ensuring participation and community ownership. The plan looks at all facets of life and development.

 This plan, if implemented, could turn Makoko/Iwaya community into a worldwide showcase of a sustainable and flood-resilient lifestyle.


It is widely expected that Lagos will become the largest city on the African continent within the next ten to fifteen years, surpassing Cairo. Being a melting pot of numerous Nigerian and West African identities, cultures and religions, Lagos has been offering millions of people dreams and hopes for a more prosperous future. As a coastal city with many of its parts lying just above sea level, Lagos faces the additional and peculiar challenge of flooding. Intelligent and innovative strategies are needed to combine the requirements of economic growth and infrastructure development with sustainable urban governance. 

The Heinrich Böll Foundation runs the Megacity Lagos programme from a liaison office in the City. Cutting across all projects, our partners emphasise the need to include Lagos citizens in urban planning and implementation processes at the local and State Government level. Our aim is to offer a discussion platform where ideas for a sustainable and equitable Lagos can emerge - so that Lagos would be called not only the biggest but also one of the most liveable cities in Africa.


Megacity means mega challenges. This publication looks at answers to Lagos’ pressing questions, such as a rapidly growing population, managing the waste such a huge population produces, adequate and affordable housing at a time when flooding is making land uninhabitable for a substantial part of the year, job creation and transportation. Can Lagos become a model megacity?

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This edition of Perspectives asks, “What are sustainable African cities?”. In so doing, it offers a snapshot of Africa’s urban sustainability challenges, ranging from tensions between heritage and urban renewal.

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