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“Let’s stop calling ourselves the Giant of Africa”

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"Let’s stop calling ourselves the Giant of Africa"


The deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi ll, says Nigeria should stop deceiving itself with the appellation ‘Giant of Africa,’ saying the country is way behind many other African countries in developmental indices.

The ex-monarch further asserted that with the rate at which neighbouring Ghana was attracting industries, “Ghanaian President has become the leading President in Africa.”

Sanusi, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said while Nigeria was stuck on crude oil, which is fast depleting and struggling to sell, the rest of the world was embracing technology.

He said except there was a paradigm shift in Nigeria’s economic focus from oil to knowledge, the nation’s economy risks imminent collapse.

Sanusi spoke at the closing session of the Kaduna Investment Summit, tagged, ‘KadInvest 6.0.’

He pointed out that while neigbouring Ghana with smaller economy invests more in education, Nigeria spends only seven per cent of its budget on that.

He said the current reality in Nigeria was that only eight out of every 100 primary school pupils go as far as the university level, while only a fraction of those would get a job upon graduation.

Sanusi said, “Globally, work is being redefined; 30 to 40 per cent of workers in developed economies will need to significantly upgrade their skills by 2030. And what are the major drivers of this redefinition? ICT and remote working, which we have seen even here with COVID-19.

“There is increased automation and Artificial Intelligence. Very soon, robot will take over work in most countries and those who have jobs are those who operate the robots or manufacture the robots or service the robots.

“For us in Nigeria, the enclave economy that we have, the so called goose that lays the golden egg is about to die. There will be no eggs. The future is not in the carbons.

“A few months ago, Germany was able to produce enough renewable energy for the entire country’s need. Today, we are having difficulties selling Nigerian oil. So, not only are we having problems to produce, even when we produce, the market is not there.

“So, this is forcing a change, and for us, a country that depends on oil, things need to change.

“Nigeria is ranked 114th in the global innovation index. We are lower than other African countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal. We are, in fact, ranked 14th in sub-saharan Africa. I think we should have this reality check and know where we are as a country. Let’s stop calling ourselves the Giant of Africa, because we are the giant with clay feet.

“Countries like Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal are ahead of us. I am not even talking about South Africa. Our expenditure on education is only seven per cent of the budget. We are spending less on education than Ghana; I am not talking about as per percentage of the budget; in absolute terms, even though the Ghanaian economy is much smaller than the Nigerian economy, even though the Ghanaian government revenue is less than Nigerian revenue, Ghana is spending more on education than Nigeria.

“And we are surprised that industries are moving to Ghana. We are surprised that the Ghanaian President has become the leading President in Africa? We are not investing in education and human capital.

“We have a 68 per cent missing job requirement and the major areas being IT, communication and decision making. And the completion rate between entry into primary one and completing university is eight per cent, meaning that out of every 100 pupil who go into primary school, only eight come out of university. And out of those eight, nine percent, which is one of the eight will get job.

“So, this is the reality in addition to what is happening globally. Now, digitisation to level the playing field is required, if we are deliberate and we shift from consumption to value creation. But part of our problem is that, even when we have the solution at our feet, we do not take it.”

Sanusi also stressed the need for skill creation for the young people to create an enabling environment for economic growth and development.

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, said his administration believed that the future of job in the world today would be digital.

El-Rufai said the state would be introducing ICT skills in vocational institutes, as well as primary and secondary schools across the state.

He said, “We believe in planning, and thinking through what our state needs and we develop human capital capacity.”

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