Africa’s Economic Miracle on the Horizon: How Nigeria can Break the Stranglehold of Poverty
Have you heard of the wee hours of the morning? Its been dubbed the darkest of the night. But when morning comes, a new burst of life sets in. This may well illustrate 21st century Africa. A continent battling extreme poverty. Its been dubbed the hopeless continent by some.
In 2000, The Economist published an article ‘Hopeless continent.’ This painful critique of Africa made international headlines. The writer seemed to summarize with compelling details the many decades of wars and bloodshed, environmental disasters and runaway corruption that has characterized the African continent.
But for all the factual reporting, this article like many others may well have omitted the big picture.
No doubt Africa continues to battle dark forces. And many of her people’s making. But to understand where Africa is today. And where she is headed tomorrow we should go down memory lane. Beginning from late 1800s to early 2000s, Africa suffered a series of setbacks disrupting the continent’s unique humble rhythm of economic growth and social cohesion.
First, the European colonization and then the amalgamation of culturally diverse people into make-shift countries. This disrupted the continent’s unique approach to social matters. Eliminated the village-styled governments very unique in the African continent. The result is the explosion of cultural gaps that have inspired some of the continent’s darkest events for which the Economist article did report.
Africa has been in a tug of war with cultural issues for centuries – including tribal brutality, egocentric leadership, underworld corruption, spiritual emptiness and more. But the arrival of Europeans in many not all cases compounded the unique cultural issues Africa had to confront.
For thousands of years, this was a continent accustomed to tribal chiefs. Big national governments were rare before the white-man set foot on the continent. Even the large ancient African monarchs were often confined to small geographic regions.
Population size confined to few millions if not hundreds of thousands. This is evident when you look at ancient African Kingdoms like Timbuktu in Mali, Benin Kingdom in Nigeria to Swahili Kingdom in East Africa and Arab leaning kingdoms in North Africa.
Then with European aggression and subsequent scramble for Africa, we had the many years of culture shock on a terrifyingly huge national scale. European-styled national governments replacing existing African village governments. The center could not hold. Weaknesses once managed by small ethnic village systems gave way. And the worst of the continent came alive.
Africa seemed destined a hopeless continent.
But what is often left out in the narration is this could well be a phase. A passing phase in Africa’s long march through time. It is important to keep the continent’s problems in the last hundred years in perspective. It’s not always been bad news for Africa. This is not to say Africa’s history before European arrival had all been wonderful.
For to every people there will be good and bad times. Even so when the great testing arrive. We are all being tested.
If we adapt and change the way we think and follow good principles,of God, great things can happen. More so history has been kind to Africa. We can take solace from that and rebuild.
There was a time when you hunger you come to Africa. If you are in danger of being wiped out you migrate to Africa. If you had no home, you say Africa here I am. Africa made a unique mark. This gave rise to the legend of ancient Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, East and West Africa and much more.
Warring nations made peace in Africa. The continent was the darling of the world.
But few African tribes preserved these unique experiences in written forms in some cases dating back more than 5000 years. However, activities along tribal lines, renewed desire for enduring change, adaptive thinking among the new wave of emerging leaders and a critical mass of highly educated young population have added to the optimism about the continent.
This could be the golden generation that hold the ground. They could write a new inspiring chapter about Africa. In many ways, their ancestors struggled but held sway through the difficult times including European colonization, slavery to military regimes and democratic governments embattled with runaway corruption.
They can turn the page, if they so choose.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is well positioned and should lead the movement on the continent. Nigeria can get creative and tackle nagging continental problems. Poverty is not a native of Africa. By dreaming big dreams and not relying on big governments, we can seize the chance to rebuild the desolation of many generations.
The fall in crude oil prices presents a perfect situation for Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, to seize the opportunity and diversify the economy. Only 50 years ago, Nigeria was a leading producer of oil palm, cocoa, rice, cotton and a vast array of solid minerals including tin, gold, coal, columbite, tantalite and iron ore.
But this promising diversified economy went dry, when the crude oil wells began flowing.
Fast forward to 2017, there is a generation of Nigerians who are not relying on governments or foreign partners to rebuild their homeland. Farming and agro-allied ventures is their pride. Today, farming in Nigeria has gradually been rejuvenated by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises.
Oil palm production, for example, remains one of the next big story in southern Nigeria. European investors foreseeing the future are making inroads in oil palm investments in southern Nigeria. Oil palm is a vital raw material for high-tech energy industries that rely on bio-fuels for electricity generation.
Small family farms is a type of business practice very unique to Africa. An ancient farming tradition, handed from father-to-son, its been credited with driving much of Africa’s food movement for centuries.
Today, there are over 50 million strong family-farms in Nigeria and they have grown steadily powering the agricultural engine with many now into food processing and packaging. Regardless of Nigeria’s present economy, small family farms offers an intimate insight into Nigeria’s near future, and remains a fascinating sector to watch in the coming years.
If Nigeria’s adaptive thinkers steadily invests in agriculture and manufacturing and strong community cooperation – you could be looking at a country that could well feed the world in time to come. Let’s go Africa.