Thursday, November 28, 2013

Between a MINT and a BRIC

Nigeria and India’s population figures in their respective continents have accorded them powerhouse status- Nigeria is MINT while India is a BRIC and the relations between them have been cordial. Recently, Nigeria-India relations was shaken when a Nigerian was murdered in Gao,India. I was listening to a radio commentary on the murder and the comments by an Indian Minister describing Nigerians as a cancer after protests by Nigerians in that community. A commentator noted that there was no difference between Nigeria and India and Nigerians resident in India should return home. I was surprised that the listening public vehemently disagreed with the remark.
I submit that Indians and Nigerians are very similar in shared experiences, attitudes, values and living conditions. For instance, on issues that would require explanation to an European, American or Chinese, my Indian friends understood immediately. I also remember when an Indian tried to rip me off. When I told him I was Nigerian, he refunded my money. Even our communication patterns are similar. As Nigerians we are not wired to keep it short and simple, I have discovered same with the Indians I interact with. 
A colleague once mentioned to me that Africans especially Nigerians underestimate the level of development that has occurred in the continent. He noted that though Africa is far behind, there is a semblance of organization around our under-development.  He cited the example of Victoria Island and Ajegunle where you can differentiate uptown and downtown. In India there is no such organization, beside a castle is a shack. Another colleague on a work-related visit to China recalled when she and 3 other colleagues (Pakistani, Indian and Indonesian) were lost in China. The Indonesian was frantic whilst the other 3 had the what-is-the-worst-that-can-happen. To buttress my belief that we are similar below are comparisons from reports and studies on India and Nigeria

Approx. 170 million
 Approx. 1.2 billion
Colonial Power
 System of government 
 Mix of presidential and parliamentary
 According to Nigeria’s Minister about 70% of the population have no access to electricity i.e about 120 million people
Income Category
 Lower middle income
Lower middle income
Year of Independence  
World Bank Ease of doing Business ranking   

Purchasing Power Parity: India does better
In simple terms, PPP is “the rate at which the currency of one country would have to be converted into that of another country to buy the same amount of goods and services in that country” (IMF definition). The PPP exchange rate is the rate at which the currency of one country would have to be converted into that of another country to but the same amount of goods and services in each country. The idea is all things being equal,  a bottle of coke in India should cost the same as in Nigeria. Some calculations go into determining PPP between countries but for this post, simple mathematics would suffice. In India the average price of 33cl Coca-Cola is 20 rupees. In Nigeria,33cl of Coke costs 24 rupees

Bad roads everywhere
In both countries, roads are the major means of transportation for people and goods and are in dire need of repair. According to this Deloitte report, 10% of India’s roads are motorable with poor connectivity to hinterland. This lack of access is a reason that has been adduced for India’s slow development rate. Nigeria’s story is also similar. According to PWC’s Africa’s Gearing Up report, only ¾ of Federal roads are in a fair state (Nigeria’s road network comprises 32100 km of Federal roads, 30,900 of State roads and 132,000km of local government roads). CIA world report notes that of Nigeria’s 193, 200km roads, only 28, 980 km is paved.

Nigeria and India rank poorly on the Liveability index
 The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Liveability index ranks 140 cities on stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. In 2011, New Delhi ranked 113, Mumbai - 118 and Lagos ranked 137. Compared to other BRIC nations, India is the worst (Beijing -72, Moscow-70, Rio de Janeiro – 92)

Systemic corruption abounds
Corruption is systemic in both India and Nigeria. On Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, India ranks 94/176 while Nigeria ranks 137/176.  Government Institutions in both countries are highly corrupt and the price paid for corruption is very high in terms of lost opportunities to develop. A friend recalled his experience at India’s immigration and same scenario would have occurred in Lagos.

The difference between India and Nigeria is six and half a dozen. However,India has developed a niche in Engineering and also developed healthcare tourism and it is a possibility that Nigeria will fare worse if her population was over a billion. In the words of the commentator, why leave one shack for another? Nigeria is just 170 million.  Isn’t it easier to compete with 170 million people than 1 billion people?


P.S:Lord Lugard- Nigeria’s first governor general was born in India and also served in India

P.P.S: An interesting study would be the effects of British Colonial rule on attitudes of both Indians and Nigerians. For instance after the British left India, did Indian elites take over and become Ogas like their Nigerian counterparts? Why was India divided into India and Pakistan at Independence, yet Biafra was not “allowed” to secede from Nigeria?

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