On the 19th of August this year, US giant tech company, Apple Inc. reached a staggering $2 trillion market cap. Here in Nigeria, our entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the year 2020 is expected to be $250 billion according to Trading Economics global macro models, the highest in Africa. This means Apple market cap is eight times that of Nigeria—the so called giant of Africa. Not only that, three months ago during a webinar session on economic sustainability beyond COVID-19, ex-CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, stated rather shockingly that the annual sales of Tesla, a technology automaker in the US, exceeds the budget size of Nigeria.
These two analogies, in a nutshell, outline the powerful economic effect of technology on one hand, and the terrible state of the Nigerian economy on the other.
Both digital and mechanical technologies have being the major catalyst of countries’ transformation from utter ruins to economic powerhouses. The cases of Japan, Singapore to South Korea are all before our eyes to see and take heed.
How can technology, therefore, galvanize Nigeria into a global power?
To begin with, the first step for any country to become a global economic power is to have a literate, highly skilled workforce. In developed countries like Cuba and Poland, literacy rates are as high as 99.8% according to a 2019 report by the United Nations. In Nigeria however, according to the UN report, the rate is discouraging 69.1%, which means almost 31% of Nigerians are illiterate.
This, perhaps, is the major culprit to Nigeria’s economic mess, since an illiterate populace is a liability to the economy. Digital technology has successfully democratized knowledge via e-learning. Today, thanks virtual learning platforms like Khan Academy, Udemy, Educadium etc, and platforms like Youtube, an individual can learn almost anything from the internet. In fact, on e-learning platforms like University Of The People, one can get an accredited and certified degree for free. These technologies, if properly leveraged upon, can tremendously help Nigerians in acquiring digital and other professional skills required to transform the fortune of the country. It would indeed serve as an antidote to the rotten educational system in Nigeria.
Secondly, a nation cannot have the ‘Economic Powerhouse’ license without attaining food security. The ironic and tragic food insufficiency is deeply unsettling. Most Nigerians live in abject poverty, and are either malnourished or under-nourished. This is despite the 37% of the country’s land being arable. Many factors have contributed to this irony. Smallholder farmers, who are at the epicenter of the country’s food production, are still involved in primitive farming practices; the still use manual labor to till lands and still use obsolete irrigation systems instead of highly efficient tractors and irrigators. Agricultural mechanization is extremely low. Furthermore, majority of smallholder farmers can’t access grants and loans from banks to bolster their farm productivity because most of them are financially excluded.
But indeed, as former Israeli Prime Minister, Shimon Peres says, agriculture is 95% science and technology, and 5% hard work. And with the power of technology, Israel, despite having a geographic agricultural disadvantage of being both a desert and a small land, became a leading producer of vegetables in the world. Agricultural technology (AgriTech) can indeed transform the agricultural sector and address the food crises in Nigeria. Innovative agri-technology companies like HelloTractor are tackling the problem of mechanization. Through a farm equipment sharing App., they offer tractor-hiring services to smallholder farmers by linking them with tractor owners. This greatly improves mechanization access to smallholder farmers most of whom can’t afford to buy a tractor. Other agritech companies like Babban Gona provide
About the Author:
Ibrahim Sambo is a scientist and poet. He writes on history, philosophy, science and technology. His articles have appeared in various blogs and newspapers including Qwenu, YENlive, Applied Worldwide Fountain Magazine among others. You can connect with him on Facebook as Ibrahim Sambo.