Ife Adebayo: Nigeria’s untapped wealth (Y! Politico)

by Ife Adebayo

Ife Adebayo

  If a good number of Nigerians are trained in a particular sector they can become an army and make good gains for the sector.

Nigeria is a wealthy nation, so says the world. It is not uncommon to hear both foreign and local journalists speak about Nigeria’s oil wealth. Business day online says Nigeria’s GDP grew by 6.17% in the first quarter of 2012. Nigerian Billionaire Aliko Dangote currently runs one of the largest cement factories in the world and is worth an estimated $2.1bn. German carmaker Porsche officially opened a new car dealership in the heart of Lagos’ wealthiest district, Victoria Island, in its bid to get to Nigeria’s rich. Recent reports also show that the country earned N7.2tr from oil in the first 3 quarters of 2012. All the above point to the fact that Nigeria is a rich country. But the question is, do we have a true picture of Nigeria’s wealth?

Looking at GDP just before return to democracy in 1999, our GDP was 1.88%, and as at 2010 it had risen to 8.7%, good signs of development, but how did we achieve this feat? This was easy, the non-oil sector contributed most to the country’s GDP with agriculture contributing more than 40%. However you find that even though oil does not contribute much to our GDP we are still called a nation with ‘oil-wealth’ because most of our foreign earnings come from oil. We basically export oil and import everything else. This is a pointer to the fact that all focus is on Nigeria’s oil, but if we are to seriously look at our wealth as a nation we need to look away from oil which only contributes a paltry sum to GDP. We need to focus on some other untapped resources which I will list below:

1. Agriculture

This is the sector of the Nigerian economy that employs the most number of Nigerians and contributes highest to the GDP. Investors should be very interested in this sector as it is a goldmine. The northern part of Nigeria can produce a lot of legumes and root crops like potatoes, carrots etc. States like Benue can produce virtually anything, from yams to mangoes and fruits. The agricultural sector can be built from scratch; produce can be stored, preserved and exported. They can also be processed into juices, flours, canned foods etc. The opportunities are limitless and endless. This is one reason why the Federal Government needs to get serious about solving the insecurity issues in the North, and the northern leaders need to start telling themselves the truth. Spending their time focusing on finding oil in the Sahara is not the way forward. The Federal Government has been releasing new policies on investment in agriculture over the last few months but my discussions with some local farmers informed me that these funds have not actually been getting to the real people who need it, the poor local farmers.

2. Human Resources

It is estimated there are 160 million Nigerians. The potentials are immeasurable if these human resources are put to good use. If a good number of Nigerians are trained in a particular sector they can become an army and make good gains for the sector. The Indians have done this in information technology and health. We have seen this work in the banking industry, the Nigerian banking industry is currently being run by graduates from every field, from people who studied finance to those who studied history. The banks took it upon themselves to train and retrain these graduates and the results have been very positive. We need to train more Nigerians in different fields. And I don’t mean just going to university and graduating, I mean proper training, we need well trained engineers, teachers, geologists, tourism experts, architects etc. We need to harness our human resource potentials. In my opinion this is Nigeria’s greatest asset, our human resource potentials.

3. Information Technology

This is another very fertile ground in Nigeria. As of December 2011 Nigeria had over 45million internet users, that is about 30% of the population. If there is anywhere that we still have space for investments in Nigeria it is in information technology. Investors need to take advantage of Nigerians’ love for information technology and the latest gadgets. Most Nigerian companies, especially government organisations still do a lot of manual work that can be automated using information technology, our banks still do a lot of manual work that can be automated, there are so many areas in the Nigerian economy that have gaps that can filled with information technology innovations.

4. Power (Solar, wind and other renewable energy sources)

With the government’s new policy in the power sector focusing more in IPPs (independent power providers). This means if you have your money you can produce your own power in Nigeria and sell. This is a goldmine. This is an area investors should be seriously looking to put resources into in the coming years.

Conclusion

If we take a close look at the four points mentioned above, we will see that these sectors have not really been developed in Nigeria and each of these sectors can actually earn the country more than oil currently brings in. What we have currently is plenty of government propaganda and policy formulations with no actual results on the ground. If the world calls Nigeria a rich nation in 2012, I imagine what the country will be called after these other sectors are developed. Nigeria’s untapped wealth – we need to get investors here, both local and foreign, there is a lot of untapped potential and plenty of money to be made.

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Ife Adebayo is an IT Consultant with work experience in Germany, United Kingdom and Nigeria. He currently runs his own IT firm in Lagos, Nigeria. He is an ardent believer in the Nigerian project and encourages all Nigerians to become actively involved in making Nigeria a better place.

Ife is a registered member of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Epe Local Government, Lagos State. He was an active member of the UK branch of the party, holding the post of Youth Leader for the year 2010/2011.

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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