Nigeria: Flora Omosevwerha
It feels like the world is in an awful mess now. Given the various conflicts in the Middle East and Eastern Ukraine, global terrorism, the Ebola concerns in West Africa, natural and man-made disasters in Asia as well as civil unrest in the US just to mention a few. All this easily creates a perception that the road ahead for most nations is gloomy and that economic survival could be many generations away.
Perception as we know is a powerful thing and Nigeria has weathered more negative publicity in the media than positive. But the reality is that despite the challenges, there have been areas of positive progress particularly in the last 15 years. Without doubt, if you consider the pace of development, infrastructural and security challenges, the state of the nation’s education and healthcare systems as well persistent poverty levels, there is no denying that more needs to happen. However, research done by McKinsey confirms that in the last 10-15 years, Nigeria has established an impressive record of steady growth, improved political stability, a respectable and more transparent banking environment through better governance and consolidation, increased commercialization and entrepreneurial activity, increased industry diversification into the service, retail, telecoms and manufacturing sectors, a growing digital economy which has contributed to a the rapid middle class growth despite persistent poverty levels.
So, does Nigeria have the potential to be a global economic powerhouse? Yes. Unconditionally so? No. Not without the right enabling factors to make that vision a reality (more on that later!).
Since April 2014, Nigeria, apart from being Africa’s most populous nation, is now recognized as the continent’s largest economy (26th in the world) with a current GDP of $510bn. Figures validated by the World Bank, IMF and African Development Bank, positions Nigeria as having the potential to be a top-20 economy with a GDP in excess of $1.6 trillion by 2030. Other anticipated gains will be a more diverse mix of income generating sectors (with hopefully less focus on oil and gas) and a significantly increased middle-class with more disposable income to spend. These are figures that cannot and are not being ignored given the economic potential they present. All one has to do is to look around and observe the ongoing growth in entrepreneurs, the continued influx of returning professional Nigerians, large numbers of expatriate workers, foreign investors as well as a very thriving real estate industry.
In my opinion, Nigeria does have the potential to achieve an economic powerhouse status. The more pertinent question is ‘what will it take for this vision to be realised?’
Obvious conditions, in my opinion, will be the presence of an enabling environment that allows the individuals and business to thrive, a continued drive towards political and financial stability, improved power, utility, communication and transport-road infrastructure, more active diligence towards security concerns as well as better investments in its education and healthcare systems.
Flora Omosevwerha is a Nigerian and British national currently working in the mobile communications sector in Lagos, Nigeria. Prior to her present role, she has covered various management positions in the UK within the public service, telecommunications, marketing and retail. She is also the coordinator for the Henley Alumni Group in Nigeria.