Monthly Archives: February 2011
At what cost will Africa realize the economic potential of its agricultural industry? According to McKinsey & Company, about 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land is on the African continent. A few months ago, NPR did a piece on how Brazil has leveraged science to establish the country as a breadbasket. While listening to the piece, I thought about the model Brazil presents for African countries. Initially excited, I then thought about the potential costs of producing genetically manufactured (GM) foods.
Embrapa, Brazil’s government-run agricultural research institute, has done significant research to find ways for various types of crops to grow in the country since the 1970s. This research has led to enormous economic output. According to the Economist, Brazil drove the value of its crops from $23 billion in 1996 to $108 billion in 2006. Furthermore, the country is only using 12.5 percent of its 400 million hectares of uncultivated arable land. The Economist article qualifies these figures with the caution that Brazil drove agricultural growth systematically, and that growth on the African continent will not come quickly. Brazil spent years improving its soil, in concert with seed development. These developments led to new farming techniques that have enabled farmers to significantly increase their yields.
One can imagine the implications of Brazil’s agricultural growth for the African continent. McKinsey and Company projects that by 2040, African countries can increase the collective value of their agricultural output from $280 billion to $880 billion. To do this, countries will have to bring more land into cultivation, increase crop yields, and replace low-value crops with high-value crops like fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, if African countries are not able to implement these key drivers faster than Brazil has, 2040 will not be the year that the continent realizes $880 billion in agricultural output. The celerity with which African countries have driven the boom of the mobile phone industry makes me hopeful that it will be able to implement agricultural growth at a faster pace.
My tension lies in Brazil being second only to the United States in utilization of GM crops. Proponents of GM foods point to the necessity of these crops in establishing food security and production levels for generations to come. Critics argue against GM crops due to their potential danger to humans, and the threat they pose to other plants. A number of African countries are already producing GM crops, and scientists in Brazil continue to develop new plant technologies and farming techniques. Scientists, farmers, and policy makers are going to have to commit to thoroughly vetting the costs and benefits of employing GM crops in pursuit of a robust agricultural industry on the African continent. The economic potential of agriculture on the continent is quite impressive and will be an obstacle to objective cost-benefit analysis of policy options. Decision makers must champion thorough research and holistic conversations in shaping the premise on which countries drive agricultural development efforts. Without this hard analysis, the realization of Africa’s agricultural potential could come at a significant cost to the continent’s one-billion people read more
The year 2011 is fully loaded with activities, and as a nation a lot of activities had been lined up for the year; our lives as inhabitants and the course the nation is to steer is embedded in the event of this electoral year. Election year in any nation is very significant and Nigeria is not an exemption. It comes with expectation and sometimes fears as transition becomes eminent.
Activities with national significance were lined up from the beginning of the year; with the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, being the focal point with the concluded voter’s registration and the dead line for party’s primaries to declare flag bearers for the general elections.
So far, they have been trills and expectations as we await the man that will repaper our political relevance within and outside our terrestrial domain. To our nationhood all these are relevance but beyond 2011; what lies ahead?
Taking this into perspective, we all have to think about our roles in the coming days, these personal roles will affect our nationhood directly and the impact can be weighed against our national progress. If I choose to sell my vote, what lies ahead of me beyond 2011? Should you canvass for any man because of personal gratification, what lies ahead of you beyond 2011? We need to look at the reality of the event in the coming days how it is going to reshape our history positively or negatively going forward.
We cannot continue to encourage the looters to have a stroll through our treasury, we need to defend it with all we have and with all courage we can muster, the strength of struggle is not in the pattern but in the intensity of it. If we keep hard enough like the Egyptians we will get something good out of the present situation; only then, can we be set on the path of change.
Many reason in the light of development, but this will not come if we fold our arms and watch, we need to convince ourselves that enough is enough. Conviction is the primary spark to revolution and until we say to ourselves that we are tired of today. We need a better tomorrow devoid of corruption, and thus the need to change our present set of leadership.
This can be gradual or drastic but if we stay hard enough, the required change needed to push our nation forward will come. We may not have the tenacity of the Egyptians and the gut of the Tunisian protester Mohammed Bouazizi but we can muster the willpower needed to stir up change. It is so painful that a generation with over a hundred million youth will watch their destinies swing on the pendulum without doing anything about it.
It is time for us to call for better days, better days to a more purposeful leadership; electing leaders that we can talk to rather than the one that we always listen to. We have the strength to change our country but what we lack is the courage. And to spark this courage is determination for a better tomorrow. A better tomorrow is not a tomorrow that is just better than today for me but a tomorrow is a destined future to us all with a guarded path to glory, with a virile insurance for the unborn.
Beyond 2011, I see a change of guard where the criteria for political and elective positions will change, when we will stand tall, proud to stretch out our green passport anywhere; when we will all graciously be identified with Nigeria and her course. A day when comfort will be defined by the common man; But this day will never come until we all call it forth.
It will show in the way we think, act and live. Tomorrow is for the noble, while today is for the looters and their loot will make as much relevance as we give it. We need a societal re-orientation before we can talk of a better tomorrow.
Are we really ready for a better tomorrow? read more
These days as money managers run risk analytics to determine where the next big thing or investment opportunity will come from; one nation that often comes up within these complex models is Nigeria. The lesson of the 2008 world economic downturn has prompted companies in the west to search for a different type of diversification strategy. This strategy is focused on sector and asset class diversification especially in Africa as a continent.
Western nations want to invest in Africa and in return they seek a clear path to sustainable ROI. To answer this basic question investing in Nigeria becomes a viable option. Africa has become attractive and like a beautiful bride the initial relationship will be beneficial if the conditions in African nations specifically Nigeria welcomes the capital inflow.
Capital inflow will increase as Americans see opportunity to take advantage of a blossoming nation with vast natural resources. What ever your politics, the fact remains that Nigeria can be said to have a better educated populace when compared to the a majority of the nations in Africa. Countries like China recognize the importance of investing in Nigeria and have increased capital inflow into Nigeria. Chinese investors are partnering with Nigerian companies and State Governments.
The two countries are trying to foster stronger ties. The recent visit by President Goodluck Jonathan to China in February 10, 2011to improve Multi-lateral Cooperation within the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum and other direct forums is geared towards increasing investment in Nigeria and maintaining the capital inflow. Trade between Nigeria and China just hit the 13Billion dollar mark. Nigeria has earmarked a free trade zone for Chinese manufacturers to made goods in Lagos State. China is no fool though; they understand that to compete with the US and other large economies they gain competitive advantage by being “first” to markets in a country like Nigeria.
As Nigeria open its doors it must focus on building the much needed infrastructure necessary to compete within its own continental axis; let alone the world. Nations like Ghana have learnt what does not work from Nigeria and have created strategic planning divisions within their governments at various level that are geared towards encouraging organic development, fostering growth and accelerating capital inflow into their economies. The inflow of capital must be targeted at the key sectors of the economy that encourage organic growth within a nation. Instead of building new skyscrapers, it must be focused on roads, energy, education, service and technology.
As the Chinese seek greater return on investment, Nigeria must make sure these investments are the right type of investments and have a set tenure. We must enter the negotiating table armed with a long term vision and not short term gain. Our ROI must be infrastructural development and remedies to maintain them; energy and remedies to increased them, education, service and technology must become a fabric for every investment decision that is made. Nigerian companies must look for organic ROI in every investment of partnership with the Chinese.
(African Analyst team) read more
With the rallies been held round the country by the various political parties for the presidential elections, we will continue to analyze the political trend and chances of each of them, let’s look at what we need from the man who will be president of our country, Nigeria. After which we can look at the aspirants who can fit in best to the role of the president.
That man must be a man of value; integrity, faith, dexterity, courage and truth must be his driving principle. He must be a people’s person, with a compassionate heart to serve the populace.
The man who will be president must meet the requirement of the position, because the office of the president now comes with lots of dynamism because of the evolving world we find ourselves; we are in a world with constant change and innovation; with all facets evolving, there is a need to act same in actualizing the pursuits of our nationhood.
Some years ago, what we term as national security did not involve internally motivated strife…, we now have a higher expectation of performance from the man who will be president regarding the security of the nation as it relates to our growing internal security concerns. Who can tame the strife we are having around the nation, from Jos to Bornu, from Abuja to Kaduna; who can put a stop to this abysmal shame?
We have been going through pains and apprehension over our present internal security state, especially in the middle belt region of the country, Many wonder when this violence, wickedness and strife will end. What do we call this? Some say it is a politically incited riot, while others say it is a religious war and some say its tribal battle.
But whatever is said does not take away the problem; we need a president that will be bold enough to confront this issue once and for all who has the dexterity to provoke justice and stabilize peace in these parts of the country. We await him.
Now, a lot of concerns is channeled to the development of infrastructure which to me is like chasing shadows, the world is moving at a pace that is not equivalent to the struggle we are having on a daily basis looking for a better way to solving these multi faceted challenges. Our problems is not just infra-structural decay, it is structural and as such affects all others. Our leadership is not directed to delivering effectiveness in all spheres of governance and until this is actualizes; we will have a parochial stride towards development.
We need a man who will not only be intellectually sound, he has to be courageous in taking hold of our opportunities as a nation, and many will say we are a rich nation, I will say that wealth without control is as good as poverty and this is a valid explanation of our poverty as a nation, we need to control our resource, resource development and empowerment is key to pulling out of our present economic downturn. Our overall capital development as a nation will always be a product of our sustainable human capital development over time. To have a better Nigeria; we must have better Nigerians.
We believe that with polished economics strategies, driving virile internal economic policies to strengthen local industries as well as external policies to enhance better global trade engagement. We can conquer our immediate market of sub Sahara Africa; a lot is expected of the man who will be president on our economic realization, enhancing our socio-economic scalability is a sound indication of our national development.
He will distinguish himself among follow leaders in the League of Nations. He must project himself as a visionary leader, cutting across continental divide; this projection of his personality will largely be the platform of our national placement. He must take his place in global politics and affirm his commitment to the African course.
The key to this course is our Leadership in politics, commerce, technology advancement and structural development. Infrastructural development is never a product of leadership; it is a bye product of sound governance and a renewed desire to socio-economic transformation.
This man, who will be our president, must be faithful, loyal and honest to the new Nigeria. read more
Panel Track Color Code:
Friday, February 18th 2011
Dress code: Business Casual. All Friday events will occur at Harvard Business School. Registration will occur in Spangler Meredith Room. On-site conference registration available until 5pm. Cash only.
- 10am – 2pm: Prospective Students’ Day
- 4:30pm – 5:30pm: HBS Students Only Session with Panelists (Spangler Project Room Lobby Area)
- 5:30pm – 7pm: Registration and Networking Session (Spangler Williams Room)
- 8:00pm – 11pm: Entertainment (Spangler Williams Room) – Limited free drinks provided! Please bring cash for additional drinks.
- Live Music by DJ Obi
- Contemporary African Fashion Show
- Networking Activities
Saturday, February 19th 2011
Dress code: Business Formal. Shuttles will be provided from Harvard Business School to Hyatt Regency Hotel, Boston for the evening Banquet and Conference Party.
- 7:30am – 8:15am: Conference Registration (Spangler Meredith Room), Breakfast (Burden Auditorium)
- 8:15am – 8:20 am: Welcome address by Nitin Nohria, Dean of the Harvard Business School (Burden Auditorium)
- 8:20am – 9:20 am: Opening Keynote Address: Leo Stan Ekeh (Burden Auditorium)
- 9:20am – 9:30 am: Break
- 9:30am – 10:45am: Panel Session #1
- 10:45am – 11am: Break
- 11am – 12pm: Leadership Excellence Award: Thierry Tanoh (Burden Auditorium)
- 12:15pm – 1:15pm: Lunch Provided (Spangler Dining Room)
- 1:30pm – 2:45pm: Panel Session #2
- 2:45pm – 3pm: Break
- 3pm – 4:15pm: Panel Session #3
- 4:15pm – 4:30pm: Break
- 4:30pm – 5:30pm: Closing Keynote Address: Tsega Gebreyes (Burden Auditorium)
- 5:30pm – 6:45pm: Company Networking Reception (Spangler Williams Room)
- 7:45pm – 10:00pm:Gala Banquet, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Boston. Dress code: Business or African Formal. – Please bring government-issued IDs (Passport, Driver’s License, etc) as alcohol will be served
- 10:00pm – 2:00am: Official End of Conference Party, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Boston
In the past few weeks at Harvard University, the discussion has been on the revolution in Egypt. Many African students have discussed the possibilities of an Egyptian-type revolution happening anywhere else in Africa. Nigeria was at the center of the discussion and the question was: Can the kind of revolution we have seen unfolding in Egypt happen in Nigeria?
I do not do sequels. Otherwise a discussion like this would warrant a follow-up because there are so many aspects to it. But as a matter of principle; I will cram it all into one article which will discuss the lessons of the Egyptian revolution.
But first, Egyptians have proved that even in today’s world, revolutions remain the only universal language used by oppressed people to correct the ills of their society. The second lesson rests in the words of John F. Kennedy when he said that “those who make peaceful revolutions impossible make violent revolutions inevitable.”
The Egyptian revolution has been peaceful and purposeful – peaceful in the sense that the number of deaths has been very minimal, considering the number of people marching in the streets of Egypt for change. As a Nigerian, it is shameful to me that in less than a week, in one local area of Jos, 200 people were killed in a mere riot. In the Egyptian revolution, looting has also been very minimal. This is one of the few times an African nation has proved to the rest of the world that we could be as civilized in demanding our rights as the West.
The Egyptian revolution has also been very purposeful both from an organizational perspective and from a demand perspective. From an organizational perspective, I was shocked that a country like Egypt would provide for a mobile triage clinic even in the midst of a revolution. I don’t know about you, but for me this is clear evidence that Nigeria has sunk well below many other African countries, even more than it seems on the surface. From a demand perspective, the Egyptian people have shown that they know what they want – the resignation of President Mubarak and for democracy to be restored in Egypt.
The Egyptian people have not resolved to make willy-nilly demands that will turn the revolution into a mob action. Groups making all kinds of unreasonable demands of the government have not emerged. This is one of the few times we should be proud to be Africans. What makes this precedence set by Egyptians more remarkable is that the apparent peace in the midst of a revolution comes from a religion that has been called a violent religion by many – Islam. This is clear evidence that those who kill in Nigeria do so not in the name of Islam, but in the name of whoever sent them.
As happy as I am about the mentioned lessons of the Egyptian revolution, yet they are not the most important lessons to be learned. To determine the rest of the lessons, context is very important. So let’s draw some contrasts between Egypt and Nigeria.
Egypt is a homogenous country: Nigeria is a mosaic, an amalgam of people that have been forced together for the convenience of imperial domination. The model revolution we are witnessing in Egypt is the kind of revolution that can only be organized and sustained in a monolithic society. In establishing Nigeria even the British realized that it would not be easy for Nigerians to come together for the purpose of a revolution. This was what sustained British imperialism in Nigeria.
Like Nigeria, Egypt is also a third world nation faced with the problems of hunger, poverty and disease, just like many other third world countries.
Is this commonalty between Egypt and Nigeria enough to trigger a revolution like Egypt’s in Nigeria?
The more I put together the pieces of the Egyptian revolution, the more I lose hope about the possibility of a Nigerian revolution. In the past, I have argued strongly that a Nigerian revolution is possible and imminent. However, I have come to believe that the most essential element that leads to revolutions is missing in the context of Nigeria. For a revolution to materialize, the people do not necessarily have to be brave. They only have to be agitated enough against a few individuals. Many have argued that the reason why there will not be a Nigerian revolution is that Nigerians are cowards. Nigerians are not cowards; Nigerian leaders are exploiting the same aspect of our country that the British exploited – the fact that Nigeria is not a homogenous society. This is the secondary reason why the Nigerian revolution is delayed.
The primary reason why the Nigerian revolution is delayed is that Nigerian leaders have added another element that makes any expectations of a Nigerian revolution unrealistic. It is not that they have instilled fear into the Nigerian people; it is that they have been rotating the looting of Nigeria among a group of people.
In “democracies” like Nigeria, revolutions are primarily caused by demagogic looting of wealth. However, when the looting of people’s common wealth is rotated among a cabal; the chance of revolution becomes slim. The people’s wrath comes more quickly against a tyrannical and one-man government, just like the one Egypt has seen under President Mubarak.
What Mubarak is to Egypt, Obasanjo would have been to Nigeria: Obasanjo would have liked to remain in power for as long as he breathes, just like Mubarak. Obasanjo would have liked to hand over Nigeria to one of his sons after a long tyrannical regime, just like Mubarak wanted to do. In effect, what I am saying is that Obasanjo would have been the only man who could have brought the Nigerian revolution closer. In hindsight, those who stopped him in his tracks did not help the cause of a Nigerian revolution. They stopped him without knowing what the effect of their action would be on the possibility of a Nigerian revolution; their reason for stopping him was to take part in the looting of Nigeria.
As long as the looting of Nigeria keeps being rotated, the Queen of England is more susceptible to be overthrown in a revolution than the cabals who rule Nigeria. In all these, the greatest lesson of the Egyptian revolution is that revolutions need not be bloody in order to change the trajectory of a nation. read more
One of the policies of some state government that is generating enormous public concern and discourse in so many quarters is the ban on commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as Okada which had already taken effect in some states. Okada as it is called finds its way as a means of commercial transportation in Nigeria in the late 80’s to early 90’s. But before this period, it was used mainly as a private means of mobility to fetch water, firewood, palm fruits as well as to run other domestic errands and never a medium for commercial transportation as it is the case now.
A lot has been said about those coming out for the office of the president, Federal Republic of Nigeria, which seems to be the main concern – of the coming general elections – for most citizens within and outside the shores of the nation as well as the international community at large. Who will be Nigeria’s next president? We all ask, but come to think of it, is it only the position of the president that will affect the desired change we expect? My answer is No; then why the apprehension?
Though we are not forgetting the import of the others to national development, we continue to seek support as we canvass for interest in the elections of the other tiers of government especially the grass root governance. We still cannot undermine the significance of it on our lives as an enclave in the nation; let us look at this in the light of what sums up our political existence as a nation.
An amazing change is sweeping through the nation and this is starting from the top echelon of Government, as the periscope of this, is the aspiration of those seeking the office of the president. Before now we use to see aspirants with military background come out to be elected, most of them with looted funds and daunting personality which is imposed on the populace; but the tide is changing fast, of all the aspirants now out, only Retired General Muhammadu Buhari has military background.
Gone are the days when one of the most admirable qualities of our leaders is their military background. Coming from years of military rule, even after the transition to civilian rule; leadership was still run in the form of military administration on civilian clothing with stringent political impunity back by undue hold on to power, we have long began a gradual cleanse of the mess left behind by the military which we had for decades.
Another one of the change is the academic background of those aspiring to be our president, which is a sharp contrast from the past, many of our past leaders or those contending had been academic pedestrians, and this to a large extend affected their leadership output. You cannot give what you don’t have is a common saying. There will be a big difference in the leadership of the nation when we have leaders with intellectual potency.
A lot is to be said of the decline in our Educational standard, I will argue that an intellectually grounded leader will always see Education as the light to success, and will do everything possible to pass it across; to him it is not just good both a must, such a leader will push it with passion and have it as a top priority.
Another stride is that majority of the present aspirants are middle age, we now hope for a leadership of the future, there is vibrancy in most of them, we are sure that they can give their best going through the rigors of leadership, being at their prime gives the right perspective to deliver a qualitative link between the old and young and gives the over a hundred million youth a sense of belonging; the polities and decision of the leadership will directly affect their generation and those after them.
We have seen religious tolerance in the new setup, we sincerely hope that we can build on this; we cannot ignore the need for us to work together going forward. Ethnic, cultural as well as social tolerance will also go a long way in stabilizing our national unity. Our strength is in our diversity.
A change of guard is eminent as we seek new ways to leadership, new ways of thinking, renewed national consciousness, and new ways of politicking, legislating and execution a lot is expected and this can only be brought about by a new generation, there is no need doing the same thing the same way and expect a different result. We do sincerely believe that we have a generation that is prepared and ready for the needed change.
It is time for us to come out and take our chance to change our destiny; we cannot continue to be passengers in the affairs of our future. Let us take our lives in our hands and deliver to our children living and unborn what we can defend. We have no excuse other than delivering the change we so desire.
Change is an action word in leadership!!! read more
In the global competition to win the future through technological innovations and education, what does winning the future mean for Nigeria?In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 22, President Obama told the world that for America to maintain a competitive edge over other industrialized nations, America must be geared toward “winning the future.” Obama said that “to win the future, America must out-innovate, out-build, out-compete, and out-educate other nations.”
While industrialized nations struggle to out-compete, out-innovate, out-educate and out – build one another, Nigeria struggles with political instability, internal security threats, and infrastructural decay. While these are all vital and important issues and require serious attention for Nigeria’s continued existence as a nation, Nigeria must also take seriously the global competition to win the future. Otherwise, Nigeria will continue on this downward economic spiral.
Why should the competition to win the future be taken seriously, when there are so many other, seemingly more pressing problems to address?
Nigeria should take the competition to win the future seriously because according to President Obama, “the world … and the rules have changed.” The rules changed because of an increasing global economic interdependence. The world has come to a point in which a nation’s economy is no longer determined by its natural resources, but by its ability to innovate. So it makes sense that the rules have changed even more significantly for countries like Nigeria, whose economy depends solely on natural resources like oil. The competition to win the future is not a competition for natural resources; the competition to win the future is a world of ideas. As we have seen in the case of Nigeria, you can have an abundance of natural resources and, yet, remain one of the poorest nations in the world.
What must Nigeria do to make sure that the dream of remaining in the global economic competition does not die?
Nigeria’s leaders must measure their goals against global benchmarks. President Obama’s call for America to out-innovate, out-build, out-compete and out-educate other nations is the only option for any nation wishing to remain in contention in the global competition. To keep the future’s trophy within site, Nigeria must embrace these same goals.
Unfortunately, the world has not been waiting for Nigeria and Africa to get their political acts together. The world economy has transformed into one in which technological innovations determine the winner and loser nations. Therefore, any nation that aspires to out-perform in the global economic competition must leverage its potential to out-innovate, out-build, out-compete and, most importantly, out-educate others. It is common knowledge that education has been on a downward spiral for many years now. As bad as it is, what makes the neglect of education in Nigeria disastrous is that the rest of the world has placed so much emphasis on it as the only way to out. Instead, Nigeria’s emphasis is on restoring antiquated infrastructure. I am not saying that improving Nigeria’s infrastructure is unnecessary, but because the world economy has moved beyond that stage – America, China, Europe and India, for instance, have moved well beyond the struggle for a constant electricity supply and the kind of infrastructural update we are faced with– my warning is that we should also make sure that education becomes a clear priority. To argue that Nigeria should only focus on these updates is ignoring the current stage of economic competition.
Nigeria has become a consumption economy that has been abandoned by the rest of the world. The current trend in which local employers in Nigeria prefer people who studied abroad to people who studied in their own country is an indication of how global competition is affecting Nigeria. And yet our leaders are not alarmed. The fact that Nigerian leaders have not made education their utmost priority is an indication that they have no intention of placing Nigeria in sight of the global competition.
In a world where countries struggle to gain competitive advantage over others, it is backwards for us to keep defining winning the future in terms of political stability, a consistent power supply, good roads, and internal security. While these are undoubtedly important aspects in making Nigeria a better country, Nigerian leaders should keep in mind that the rest of the world have moved beyond this stage. It is not the rest of the world’s fault that Nigeria has been stuck at this stage of development.
President Obama understands that winning the future requires a credible effort to out-educate other countries, and so should President Jonathan Goodluck read more