Nigeria needs industrialisation to develop

In the quest to improve the material well-being and welfare of the citizens, various governments in Nigeria have over time embarked upon numerous developmental policies, plans, programmes and projects. Looking back, it is clear that the economy has not actually performed to its fullest potential, particularly in the face of rising population, and enormous resource endowment.

Undoubtedly, Nigeria and other African countries need investment and developmental projects from other countries. Many African countries have low levels of development and technological advancement, while countries like China, Brazil, Indonesia, India, Malaysia etc, though also referred to as developing countries, have higher levels of technology like in railway, power, car plants, manufacturing, engineering, ICT, space technology and aviation.

Since independence, Nigeria has witnessed minimal industrialization which does not reflect her level of resource endowments. Many East Asian countries that were far behind Nigeria in terms of GDP per capita in the 1970s, today have transformed their economies and are not only miles ahead of Nigeria, but are also major players on the global industrialization chart.
History has it that Malaysia at the early stage of its development procured improved oil-palm and rubber seeds from Nigeria and became the world’s largest palm-oil producer/exporter and a major exporter of rubber.

Indeed, Nigeria needs to embark upon some major strategic reform programs with infrastructure and technological development top on the list of sectors that need urgent attention. But how then will Nigeria develop and why should it develop? These are questions that need urgent answers as they point the way forward for a country with large population of over 160 million and abundant resources including oil and gas, bitumen, limestone, zinc, gold, uranium and others.

As a country, we have to decide what sort of economy we want to run: Do we want a trader’s economy or a production-based economy? My thought is that every comparatively advantaged economy like Nigeria will choose the latter. Secondly, we need to look at specific areas of comparative advantage globally and stimulate such areas effectively in order to create wealth and value for the economy. My thought is that Nigeria is well positioned to take a leading position with industrialization and Information Technology. These fields have the potential and capability to produce more than oil and gas for Nigeria if we know what we are doing.

The Government of President Buhari should open its doors and allow countries such as the Asian Tigers and other developed economies to come in especially during this period of economic crisis, to turn around our country and industrialize the nation.

Nigeria will not be the first or last nation to do that. In fact, economic history contains stories of countries such as Japan, Germany, France that once had a closed economy but later opened their doors to foreign investors and industri Regrettably, Nigeria is still lagging behind in industrialization. Except Lagos, there is no other functional Free Trade zone. The one in Calabar is moribund. Steel and Iron mining firms such as Ajaokuta, Delta Steel, Itakpe Iron Ore, Oshogbo Steel rolling mill which would have galvanized our industrial base have been allowed to rot away despite various industrialization plans from 1960 to date. In plain language, what Nigeria needs to develop is industrialization.

A major way out of this problem is through acceleration of the economy by external sources of money (foreign investment) and technical expertise. Foreign investment would serve as means of augmenting Nigeria’s domestic resources in order to carryout effectively, her development programmes and raise the standard of living of her people.

*Ekeh is an Abuja-based public affairs analyst. Email:

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