Petroleum plays a large role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for 40% of the GDP and 80% of Government earnings. Really! 80% of Government earnings? Then what in the world is the government doing?
Have you wondered why the economy of the country is projected to be growing but there is little or no increase in employment and everything looks the same? Economic growth here and there but it does not mean anything to the live of the common Nigerian on the street. The reason is simple; Petroleum! Petroleum has made the government lazy. How many people can be employed in the petroleum sector?
Nigeria has an assorted underexploited mineral resources such as coal, bauxite, tantalite, gold, tin, iron ore, limestone, niobium, lead and zinc. But the government appears to be more interested in crude oil and natural gas. The mining industry in Nigeria is as good as non-existence.
Agriculture was the main source of foreign exchange for Nigeria. In the past, Nigeria has being the largest exporter of groundnuts, cocoa, palm oil etc. Nigeria is still the world’s largest producer of cassava but nowhere close to largest exporters. Thailand is the largest exporter of cassava, followed by Vietnam, then Indonesia and Costa Rica. See, these countries are earning big from this. Nigeria is also the largest producer of yam. But of what benefit can these translate to the lives of the common man in the village?
Do you know how much the government could be making from these areas (mining and agriculture)? Do you know how many Nigerians the mining industry could have employed? Not to talk of the ripple effect it can cause in the economy.
The sudden economic performance of Russia and the increase rise in its GDP came not basically as a result of its abundance natural resources and high crude oil and gas export but as a result of the increasing entrepreneurial activities in the country. Small and medium scale business activities have played the greatest role in diversifying the country thereby reducing unemployment rate and increasing the number of middle income class in the country.
Crude oil export could earn Nigeria much revenue but will not be able to create the necessary employment needed for the country to prosper considering the fact that the country is over 170 million unlike its resource rich Arab counterparts with few populations where the wealth can go round if not in employment at least as welfare.
After spending years in Malaysia and South East Asia where I obtained my degrees, I have studied the economy with keen interest. Therefore, I propose what should be called: KEY ALTERNATIVE ECONOMIC AREAS.
These key areas which I modelled from that of Malaysia and China are areas of great potentials to the economy of Nigeria but little or no attention have been placed to it.
The Key Alternative Economic Areas should be:
1. Agriculture (with special focus on livestock and Cash crops-Palm oil, cocoa, groundnut, cassava, yam etc).
2. Solid minerals (other minerals other than crude oil).
7. Nnewi (special attention should be given to it as a manufacturing hub).
9. Free trade zone (Tinapa could be revived or somewhere else)
10. Internet Technology
11. Power supply
12. Entertainment (film production etc).
These are listed in no particular order. It is also important to know that I did not write them down today. I have carefully studied the South East Asian economy and what they are doing after which I crafted this out last year, waiting for an opportunity to present it.
These 12 Key Alternative Economic Areas (NKAEA), are diversified, some will provide employment and better lives for the country while some will be focused on export as we will have surplus. But one thing is certain, it will cause a drastic rise is the number of investments in the country.
The government can achieve these by giving special incentives, in some cases tax holiday to investors venturing in any of these areas. I cannot share everything in this article but watch out for the part 2 here, when I will write a detailed working plan proposal of how this will work.
Why am I sharing this here? The greatest advantage of writing is that you never can tell who will read. Even you, reading this, yes! you! might tomorrow, be in a position to do something. Having it in mind, you will run with it.
By Kingsley Chinedu Nnanweuba
Chinedu Nnanweuba is an entrepreneur and the author of 2 books; Imbibe Entrepreneurship
and Miltonomics: Economic Principles for Sustainable Development in the 21st Century.
Facebook: Chief-Chinedu Nnanweuba
Twitter: Chinedu Nnanweuba @ApexStrategist