Lai is a leading public policy advisor to senior government officials, international donor agencies and corporate investors. His areas of expertise include energy transitions and sector reform; infrastructure development; and public private partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa.

He was most recently Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria and Senior Policy Advisor to Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga in his role as African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa. He was originally a project finance attorney with the New York law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, working on major international project finance and securitisation transactions, before being funded by the World Bank to work in the Bureau of Public Enterprises, the Nigerian privatisation agency.

He is a Yale World Fellow, was a Gleitsman Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, has a MSc in Business Economics and received his BA (Hons) and MA from Balliol College, Oxford University.