That Nigeria is missing from a list of most advanced countries in Africa sums up an age-long tale of failing to maximise our potentialities. And the blame for this spans administrations, just as it reflects the quality of leadership and followership in the country.
A report by Insider Monkey entitled: “12 Most Advanced Countries in Africa”, listed 12 countries in Africa which have been able to use their natural resources to boost their economies.
These countries, according to the report, are Côte d’Ivoire; Zimbabwe; Tanzania; Senegal; Namibia; Ghana; Egypt; Kenya; Botswana; Tunisia; Morocco and Republic of South Africa.
To arrive at the methodology used in ranking the countries, the publishers of the report said they consulted the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) Global Innovation Index to find out which countries in Africa are the most advanced ones out of the 56 sovereign states that are members of the United Nations.
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were found lacking either in their scope, as few African countries have patents to their name, or in- comprehensive and out of date due to a lack of availability of the latest entries.
However, the report revealed the age-long truth that Africa is one of the richest continents in the world when it comes to natural resources, with vast resources of valuable metals such as cobalt, gold, platinum and coltan.
It cited that Côte d’Ivoire relies primarily on agriculture for substance. It said the Franco-phone 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.
With Nigeria’s inability to export its products to other countries, it is far from surprising that we are not on the list.
What is, perhaps, exasperating is the perception that we have become indifferent towards reviving our production potential.
It is sad that such a list is coming at a time when the reigning sound in contemporary pop music is DNAed by Nigeria’s Afrobeat variant. Before now, Nollywood had made an impressive impact not just in Africa but in other continents.
Reports have it that Nollywood seems to be passing Hollywood in terms of the number of movies it produces a year.
According to reports, with an annual output of nearly 2,500 films and with a financial value of over $6.4 billion, Nigeria’s Nollywood is the world’s second-largest film industry, right behind India’s Bollywood.
While it is cherry that Nigeria is dominating the entertainment space, it is worthy to note that the successes are largely the personal effort and drive of the practitioners in the industry. Imagine how much more impact could be had with strategic government support.
Nigeria’s ability to produce what she consumes and export finished goods eroded as the decades went by. The once boisterous industrial areas in Lagos, Aba, Kano, Jos, Ibadan remain, albeit, a fading memory of what once was. Expectedly, all the consequences as we see today, including high unemployment, poor health system, weakened educational institutions, and mass insecurity have taken root as a result.
It is no surprise, sadly, that the best of Nigeria’s intellectual breed have been leaving our shores for decades, a situation which has become worse in recent years.
Of course, as a newspaper, we do not justify the mentality of our compatriots to seek greener pastures abroad. If anything, it reflects a lack of faith in one’s country.
Nonetheless, to make a bigger economic impact, Nigeria needs to get its capacity for production and exportation back. Of course, it is a given that such can only happen in a secure and politically stable atmosphere. These cannot be overemphasized.
It all comes down to the quality of leaders we choose across board. The general elections are due in less than 70 days, and the issue for introspection is choosing leaders who are conscionable enough to lead the country away from this path of indifference to production.