Nigeria Can Feed the World: The End of Oil Dependence

Woman-winnowing-rice-in-nigeria. Photocredit: www.feedthefuture.gov

Modern Nigeria was founded largely on the natural deposit of crude oil. Looking at the vast oil fields in Nigeria’s southern regions and fossil fuel reserves that keeps giving, the country appeared to be on the match to economic freedom. In time, Nigeria became Africa’s largest economy.

But between 2014 to 2016, we found out how things can go wrong when oil revenue drives your economy. Oil prices fell sharply around the world. In the heat, Nigeria had to confront nail biting national challenges in the cognitive era.

Unknowingly, crude oil crisis had begun driving the transition. Activities around Nigeria’s mining, manufacturing and agribusiness sectors have added to the narrative about where the continent is headed.

For example, mineral mining once a booming and labor intensive industry deeply entrenched in the Nigerian economy, its making a return voyage. Mining could well be one of Nigeria’s most promising comeback kid.

It is Nigeria’s natural advantage in solid minerals – together with agriculture, manufacturing and young population– that will inspire a new birth of economic miracle. It will lead Nigerians to enjoy some of the most spectacular sustained prosperity in the world’s history. The race is on.

It is Africa’s most populous country and boast some of the continent’s brightest minds.

Just about everyone has heard of the natural resources that grace Nigeria’s countryside, in the northern and southern regions. It is one of the world’s most endowed geographic region.

Natural minerals like limestone, gold, iron ore, coal, natural gas, gemstones, coltan, tin, marble, lignite,uranium and other precious metals abound. They are steadily gaining national attention they deserve.

Nigeria has some of the world’s large deposit of iron ore, bitumen, coal, limestone, columbite, tantalite and marble not to mention gold. For instance, it has an estimated 2 billion metric tons of iron ore reserves. Coal deposits are estimated to be in billions of tons.

Intensive mining effort remain key to Nigeria’s economic growth and expansion, breaking her away from crude oil dependence and then the transition to a more prosperous society.

For example, mineral mining, in Botswana, as at 2015, reached over 80 percent of export and the cumulative effect is a network of mining-related industries that include construction and operation of mines, transport systems and loading facilities, public housing and tourism, commodity market, fine restaurants, shopping outlets and fruit drink companies, energy footprints in industrial growth, museum and schools.

Annual revenues from Botswana mining-related industry may well reach $4 billion dollars, in a country of over 2 million people.

Nigeria, on the other hand, Africa’s most populous country with over 170 million people, has a flailing mining industry and cutting edge mining-related infrastructure is limited and under developed.

Except, of course, for the remaining components of government-led mining operations in the 1970s and  1960s in states like Enugu, Kogi, Delta, Plateau and Ogun. Beginning from 2000, some Nigeria’s government mines have been privatized.

But small scale mining has been thriving for decades in Nigeria. This is one of the untold stories. It is on these small scale mining enterprises hang the hopes of a continent in desperate need of enduring change.

Like western countries venture into mining in the 1700s, mineral mining is positioned to be one of Nigeria’s biggest export trade. It is all about timing.

Falling oil revenue, home-grown manufacturing, high import costs and quick-thinking people will drive Nigeria’s mineral mining story. Mining is an important engine driving the set up of industrial plants and high-tech enterprises across the world.

Large scale mining triggers economic storm anywhere it goes. It is one of the key drivers of the economic boom in western countries in the last 300 years.

The cumulative effect of large scale mineral mining across Nigeria’s northern and southern regions cannot be fully expressed in words. But it is coming.

Nigeria may well feed the world. It is Africa’s most populous country. It has one of the largest concentration of highly educated professionals on the continent.

It is Nigeria’s venture into large scale mineral mining – together with agribusiness and manufacturing – that will help quicken Africa to economic freedom. We are sitting on the dawn of a new chapter in the continent’s history.

 

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