- By Kingsley Omose
Years back when the GSM licenses had just been auctioned by the Nigeria Communication Commission, the successful bidders who had very conservative figures for mobile phone subscription in Nigeria were amazed to find their projections rubbished as they easily attained mobile phone subscription in six months what they had projected to happen in three years.
Mobile phone numbers continue to climb giddily with recent figures released by NCC showing that there are over 160, 000, 000 mobile phone subscribers in Nigeria, and please don't ask me what this means for the total population of Nigerians which is said to be 170, 000, 000 by the National Population Commission.
Although the recent rebasing of the Nigerian economy puts our GDP at $500 billion, the true depth of the Nigerian economy remains largely unknown as the rebasing exercising clearly did not incorporate the massive informal economy as developments in the telecommunications sector characterized by phenomenal growth in mobile phone subscription and the outstanding revenues and taxes generated in that sector.
The bulk of Nigeria's economic activity as seen by the 160, 000, 000 mobile phone subscribers which is just a tip of the iceberg, is taking place in the informal sector and as such is not included as part of our Gross Domestic Product, and is neither taxed nor monitored by government who only concentrate on the formal economy.
The point I am making is that Nigeria is already one of the top 20 economies in the world when we combine economic activity in both it's formal and informal sectors, meaning that rather than aiming to become one of the top 20 economies in the world by the year 2020, our aim should be to unveil what we already are by the year 2020.
This change in perception or shift in outlook totally transforms the factors that need to be taken into consideration as we place emphasis in an unveiling of what is already existing as opposed to trying to become, and this will determine how resources need to be deployed once the processes for attaining those considerations are outlined.
The following factors can hasten our unveiling as one of the top 20 economies in the world by the year 2020- Stable political leadership; Improved security; Complete deregulation of downstream petroleum sector; Stable electricity power; Formalizing the informal sector; Improved service delivery by the civil service; and Standardize education delivery.
First factor in our unveiling process is stable political leadership especially at the federal level by which I am referring to both the political actors and their political platforms, but this has to be against the backdrop of an electoral system that can guarantee outcomes that reflect the will of the people, thus making for accountability.
When we have political leadership that is accountable to the Nigerian people and is focused on attaining the set of processes that will position our economy to create opportunitie and also attract local and foreign direct investment, that takes precedence over the desire of each of the component parts of Nigeria to have one of their own as head of government.
The second factor is improving the security situation across Nigeria especially by coming up with unique solutions such as the Amnesty program in the Niger Delta with it's triple pillars of disarming, reorientation and reintegration which has resulted in calm in that region and seen massive increases in crude oil production from 1.5 million to 2.2 million barrels of oil per day.
This will require out of the box thinking in the flash points that readily come to mind such as the crises in Jos, Plateau state; the Boko Haram crises in Borno state; perennial conflicts between farmers and pastoralists; cultism in our education system; the proliferation of small arms and ammunitions; tackling religious fundamentalism; militarization of ethnic militias etc.
The third factor is the complete deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector to save the trillions of Naira being spent yearly to subsidize the inefficiencies in the supply and distribution chain network that benefits mostly the government agencies regulating that sector, oil marketing companies and those using trucks to distribute petroleum products across Nigeria.
While I concede to the view of organized labour that this will result in increases in prices of petroleum products to the detriment of ordinary Nigerians, this will only be in the short term as deregulation will result in the building of refineries in Nigeria to produce petroleum products for local and export markets generating more jobs, increased economic activity and tax revenues.
The forth factor is stable electricity supply through increased electricity generation from 3, 500 megawatts to at least 20, 000 megawatts in the next five years and ensuring efficient and effective distribution of that electricity first to areas of economic activity and eventually to very nook and cranny of Nigeria. Although the Federal Government is already working in this direction, the process of disentangling government from the generation and distribution of electricity and confining itself to regulatory responsibilities is...Read More