Whether by accident or design, Nigeria is destined to become Africa’s largest economy. The kind of economic growth it will experience in the coming years and the extent to which this will transform the lives of its 160 million people is yet to be determined.
With two dollar billionaires, many more millionaires, but with 61 per cent of its population living on less than a dollar a day, Nigeria is a country of extremes, a reality that makes grappling with its challenges and taking advantage of its opportunities altogether more complicated.
Look towards the northeast of Nigeria, and the country seems on the verge of collapse; turn around and cast your glance southwestwards, and it is on the verge of take-off.
Growing international interest in Nigeria is dominated by terrorism and business opportunities, the two factors that divide opinion on its future prospects.
In January, after Nigeria was immersed in nationwide protests and strikes over the controversial removal of a generous fuel subsidy, it was shaken by a devastating terrorist attack on its second city, Kano. As the year has gone on there have been more horrific bombings and shootings in the streets, markets and places of worship of the north as well as a suicide bombing in Abuja, all carried out by Boko Haram. This evolving Islamist terrorist organisation has killed hundreds of people and is damaging the North’s already struggling economy.
But terrorism is just the latest addition to Nigeria’s mix of concerns that includes corruption, prospects for reform, human security, levels of poverty and the sanctity of contract law. Nigeria’s roads are still more dangerous than Boko Haram.
Observers hope a handful of reformist governors will create islands of best practice in some states and some sectors – and that this positive influence will spread nationwide.
Lagos is Nigeria’s ‘poster-boy’: 30 per cent of the country’s GDP is concentrated in this state and more than 60 per cent of Nigeria’s industrial and commercial activity occurs here. Investor confidence in Lagos is strong, thanks to a reformist governor, Babatunde Fashola, who has focused on delivery of basic services and improving infrastructure…
Read more: All Africa