Thursday, June 07, 2012

Growth, Fire and Intra African Trade


Growth, growth, and more growth has been a theme of this blog. Studies show that Africa has one of the highest growth rates but this has not translated into higher and better standards of living for her people. There is this belief in Nigeria that if Nigeria’s electricity problem can be addressed such that the country has constant and regular electricity, then our economic problems would be solved. I was also a believer in that gospel but my experience in the last few weeks has taught me to disbelieve this common sense logic. Why? I currently reside in a country contiguous to Nigeria. The electricity and water supply is par none. Electricity has not mistakenly “tripped”; infact I have taken power supply for granted.

But I digress, despite the availability of light and water, this African nation is far from being developed. There are a few theories I can spew on why this is so. Caveat (this is not empirically backed- it is just my opinion).
1)     Other African countries are laid back and lack the Nigerian sense of hurry and urgency.
2)     This lack of urgency shows in their cultural values of accepting whatever they get from the State. There is no desire for a better life.

However, there is no counterfactual (yet) to prove that Nigeria and Nigerians would translate regular power supply into business opportunities that would multiply and lead to economic growth


There was a fire incident in my room. The gas I bought was faulty and when I tried to use it, it went up in flames. Reminiscing on the incident makes me laugh but at that time it was not funny. Thankfully all I lost was the gas and the only evidence of the fire is the soot that covered my wall. However when the fire began and I called for help, flat mates came out and we all started to pour water and sand which didn’t help.  2 porters and 3 other men (5 men in total) also joined. We were told (my flat mates and I) to step back and let them handle it.  They could not. We got a fire extinguisher that was empty and one of my flat mates suggested what to do to stop the fire but the men refused to listen to her saying she was a woman so…. (fill in the gap). After an hour, the men left and said the gas would burn out itself. Another began to smoke. Interestingly, residents on the lower floor saw the fire and smoke and just went about their business.  To cut the drama short, Julia Okey - the Shero of this story, who was ignored by the men- put out the fire. The whole fire incident made me think about the Aesop fable of the Donkey and the Horse. I found the whole, I- am- not- landlord-I don’t- care- attitude appalling. More appalling is that my neighbors on the second floor did not care about their own safety! Nonchalance is an attitude that needs to be addressed. It may be a reason why we are still where we are. Julia Okey, thank you.

Intra African Trade

Reports show that South Africa is facing restrictions on importing oil from Iran thanks to US sanctions on Iran. Errmmm what is Nigeria doing, I think this is the time to step in and steal Iran’s thunder.  Yes, Nigeria doesn’t refine the oil (check are there refineries in SA) but crude can be sold to SA for them to refine. At the risk of sounding ethnocentrist, why should SA be investing in Iran when her brother and many brothers would soon join (Angola, Ghana, Zambia) are producing oil?

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