Several years of grossly deluded leadership have seriously crippled the productivity of the vast natural resources and the capacity of our endowed human resources in Nigeria.
Interestingly, mouths are gabbing all over the world about the huge market potential in the country; investors are quickly shifting to Nigeria (and Africa as a whole); and the government is also busy wooing investors.
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What is the handwriting on the wall?
Even though homegrown Nigerians are not empowered to exploit their God-endowed business potentials, they have learnt to get going when the road gets tougher.
Despite a lack of proper business framework or support, people are still running various multi-million naira businesses. Remarkably, Author Robert Neuwirth did not fail to capture this strength of human will among Nigerians when he visited Lagos.
Robert Neuwirth explained that high-spirited, talented Nigerians have continued to struggle to make their businesses thrive despite lack of any framework or support in the country. Here is an excerpt from the article titled The ‘Informal Economy’ Driving World Business.
In Lagos, Nigeria, he describes a bustling, hyper-entrepreneurial environment where almost everybody is doing business without oversight or support.
“About 80 percent of the workforce is part of the informal economy, and that runs the gamut from people selling vegetables at the side of the road to major corporations like mobile phone companies that do all of their business through informal kiosks that are stands at the side of the road,” he tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies. “It’s huge.”
The underground electronics market in Lagos is now a multimillion-dollar industry. Sellers import their cellphones and other products from China, and have scaled their businesses up as the markets improve.
“What they are doing is futzing with their manifests or smuggling in contraband of pirated goods through other ports,” he says. “They’ll bring their fake Nokia phones or fake Panasonic stereos in the neighboring country of Benin, and then truck them into Lagos.”
The government, he says, looks the other way.
“Nigeria has oil wealth, and that has meant that the government is fairly flush and they don’t really worry about a lot of this stuff,” he says. “As a result, there’s a lot of porousness in the system, which these informal merchants exploit.”
The informal economy in Nigeria is about two-thirds the size of its formal economy. It’s largely composed of people distributing goods from other countries — rather than producing their own marketable goods.
“There’s no way to dismiss that as unimportant economic development and important to people’s economic survival,” he says. “[But] it’s important to come up with systematic approaches to systems like infrastructure, because those are the ones that are going to determine whether there’s going to be more sustained production [in Nigeria] as opposed to distribution.”
In order for Nigeria to have its own production system, he says, the country would have to improve its infrastructure and electrical grid. But that doesn’t mean those who rely on the underground economy would be forced out, he says.
“There are in-between structures that would not drive these folks out of business and drive these markets out of business, and put a lot of people out of work that would nonetheless begin to bridge the gap and create infrastructure,” he says. “In Nigeria, there are market courts to air grievances between buyers and sellers. If someone buys a TV that doesn’t work, they can take it back. These things are the beginning of cooperative relationships between buyers and sellers, and maybe this can then be enhanced to engage the process between the sellers and the government.”
He says Nigerians are now traveling in droves to China in order to produce the products they sell back home. Guangzhou, a city in southern China, is one of the key trading points in the region.
“When you journey to the train station [in Guangzhou], you feel like you’re in Africa because there’s so many Africans located there,” he says. “It’s become the world’s trading point for manufactured goods, and the Africans have embedded themselves in society there in very direct ways, and there’s a huge back channel of trade in China and Africa. … It’s tremendously vibrant and tremendously exciting.”
“Man must survive! If government isn’t helping matters, why not rise up and help yourself.”That is definitely true of the mindset of a real Nigerian. Unfortunately, while the government has chosen to look the other way, extremely high level of importation has detrimental effects on the economy of this dear nation.
If you are in business in Nigeria, then you probably understand the huge market potential in the nation. It is unwise therefore to wait for foreigners to figure out how to thrive in spite of the crooked leadership and unfortunate infrastructural challenge facing this dear nation.
Thus, entrepreneurial Nigerians have to despise the unceasing madness making Nigerian leaders amass personal wealth from the country’s purse and learn not to be deterred in spite of the nation’s deluded leadership.
The problems facing Nigeria, as a country, may be really enormous, but everyone has to rise to the challenge from his or her own wing.