Saturday, July 02, 2011

Can Nigeria Outstrip Italy and Canada?

As I start my MSc dissertation this week, I keep jumping into several details that excites and fascinates me. I know the caption above may sound very controversial, but that's just how journalists are beginning to ask the Goldman Sachs team. Its not just the question in itself that seem interesting, the mere fact that  these questions can be asked is a testament to the shift in the global economy and it makes me sit down and press forward to focus my [re]search light on this area. And I think I will be talking about this a bit more for weeks to come. 

Whether or not the Nigeria's vision 20/2020 dream is built on this postulation is not so clear but materials available at the National Planning Commission office show some elements of Goldman Sachs Report on N-11 which I have discussed briefly on my previous post on this blog. The N-11 term is more than an acronym, it is a distinct group of countries in itself, albeit one defined by population. Following the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are the N-11 which includes: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam. Mainstream economic growth theories put forward by Adam Smith and Alfred Marshal have pointed out that labour and capital are two fundamental variables that can propel a country's productivity. Other neoclasical economists have extended this aspect of labour to include particularly human capital. It is thus expected that a country with high population will have a high growth potential (i.e. GDP). Inadvertently, if we agree with both classical, neoclassical and modern theorist, Nigeria as a country can leverage it vast human capital resources and youthful population to foster economic growth and development (remember 'demographic dividends' and youth 'bulginess' from previous posts?). Building up on stories of gloom for Nigeria being as a failed state (as put in some recent publication with questionable sources), we are once again faced with reports of hope. Whether they are forecasts targets or estimates, the Nigerian government is seen to align in this positive direction of making the future brighter than the past.
 "One of the most remarkable phenomena of the past couple of years is just how enthusiastic the leaders of some of the N-11 countries seem to be about changing policies and wanting to engage in globalization. Nigeria is one country that deserves special mention, and is certainly a country that has captured my attention. With a population close to three times that of South Africa, Nigeria's ability to deliver on our 'dream' could be vital for the whole African continent" Jim O'Neill (November 23, 2007)
Nigeria has the scale to be important in global economies if it can deliver sustained growth. Although not very popular like other N-11 countries e.g. Korea and Mexico, but it is precisely this uncertainty and the fact that Nigeria lie well off the radar screens that makes it so intriguing. If Nigeria defy skeptics and take concrete steps towards addressing areas of weakness, her growth could be much higher. Certainly, improving global conditions while the global backdrop is benign is likely to offer the best chance of weathering the next storm.

So the question of whether Nigeria can outstrip Italy and Canada has already be shown to be possible in the  figures above showing GDP estimates in 2050.These forecasts are subject to inaccuracies caused largely by variable that were not considered prime of which is the climate change. While that is a global perspective, How we handle our systemic issues (i.e. violence, crime, corruption, political stability, etc) as a nation will determine to a large extent where we will be in the nearest future. I will be dedicating the next few weeks to considering factors that may or may not make us achieve first the vision 2020 targets as well as the N-11 vision 2025 and then 2050.

However, just as someone was asking me after my presentation on Nollywood in Lancaster, UK whether it was a 'Good People, Great Nation' propaganda I was doing know ([laughs]), I want to answer a similar question headlong: these blog posts are not for propaganda or to put a government in a good light or otherwise. Although they carry element of good will to both the people and the government of Nigeria, they are purely academic and aimed at stirring further research and discussion. 

Seun Oyeniran.

Downloads . (n.d.). NIGERIA NPC - National Planning Commission | National Planning Commission Offices . Retrieved July 1, 2011, from

Goldman Sachs | BRICs. (n.d.). Goldman Sachs. Retrieved July 1, 2011, from