Nigeria did not make the list of most advanced countries in Africa, despite being referred to as the Giant of Africa.
A report by Insider Monkey, titled: “12 Most Advanced Countries in Africa”, revealed that Africa is one of the richest continents in the world when it comes to natural resources, adding that the continent has vast resources of valuable metals such as cobalt, gold, platinum, and coltan.
The report listed 12 countries in Africa which have been able to use their natural resources to boost their economy.
These countries are Republic of Côte d’Ivoire; Republic of Zimbabwe; United Republic of Tanzania; Republic of Senegal; Republic of Namibia; Republic of Ghana; Arab Republic of Egypt; Republic of Kenya; Republic of Botswana; Republic of Tunisia; Republic of Morocco and Republic of South Africa.
For instance, the report showed that the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire relies primarily on agriculture, and the country exports different products such as cocoa beans, gold, and petroleum products, thereby boosting its economy to $173 billion GDP in terms of purchasing power parity.
Meanwhile, stakeholders have decried Nigeria’s inability to export its products to other countries. To them, Nigeria is blessed with different varieties of foods, but it’s unable to export farm products due to its inability to meet international standards.
Ogun state governor, Dapo Abiodun said while Nigerian farmers produce about 48 million tonnes of yam annually, they are unable to export them, because they are being rejected by developed countries.
Abiodun said most Nigerian farmers had to send their farm produce to Ghana to be tested for quality assurance, before exporting it to other countries.
With the new commissioning of the African Quality Assurance Centre in Ogun State, the state governor said Nigerian farmers would no longer go to Ghana to test their products before export, adding that the new facility would increase Nigeria’s non -oil revenue.
As for South Africa, it is the fifth largest economy in Africa which was worth $411 billion last year, the report stated, adding that, “It is the only country in Africa with a nuclear power plant and is known for important scientific contributions such as the first human to human heart transplant, yellow fever vaccine, and X-Ray based CT scans. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the country is the only African nation with most of its Global Innovation Index scores in the third quartile, with a high market sophistication score of 39.”
Reacting to this, Professor and manager, Drug Manufacturing Company, National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, (NIPRD), Prof. Martins Emeje told LEADERSHIP, that Nigeria is lagging behind when it comes to science.
Emeje disclosed that Nigeria is a home to one of the best brain in pharmaceutical scientists in the world, adding that, “The country has the human capacity to manufacture any type of drug, to undertake research and development into any type of drug, whether it is synthetic or natural. The country also has the professionals, intellectual and industrial know-how that is needed to produce vaccines.”
In terms of Infrastructural capacity, however, he stated that Nigeria does not have the infrastructural capacity to manufacture, not just vaccine, but all drugs.
“Right now as we speak, Nigeria does not manufacture any drug 100 per cent. We import raw materials, that is active pharmaceutical ingredients, then we compound them or produce them into capsule, tablets, injection and syrups etc. Sometimes, we import already finished products from India, China and the United Kingdom (UK) into our health system and into the market to be sold in the pharmacy or patent shops or in our hospitals.
“So, we do not manufacture anything and that is because, the infrastructure that is required for Nigeria pharmaceutical space, industry players, that is the scientists to undertake synthesis of chemical compound required to make our own drugs and vaccines, are unavailable at this point.”
To boost the country in terms of research and development, Emeje however said the pharmaceutical companies and private sector should also step up to fund research and development in Nigeria, as government cannot do it alone. “It was AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company that funded or partly funded the AstraZeneca vaccine we are using today. Pfizer also funded its own vaccine, so pharmaceutical companies should be ready to do so in Nigeria and stop funding election campaigns that have little value on Nigerians,” he added.
Also commenting on the development, a management expert and founding national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Dr Chekwas Okorie, has said that Nigeria is not among the top 12 most advanced countries in Africa because the country’s constitution stifles innovation that could have included Nigeria among the most advanced countries in the continent.
Okorie was reacting to a Yahoo publication which listed the 12 most advanced countries in Africa.
To arrive at the methodology used in ranking the countries, the publishers of the report said they consulted the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Global Innovation Index to sift out which countries in Africa are the most advanced ones out of the 56 sovereign states that are members of the U.N. While other metrics, such as the OECD’s patent database and the percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) spent on research and development, were initially considered, they were found lacking either in their scope (few African countries have patents to their name) or incomprehensive and out of date due to a lack of availability of the latest statistics.”