“Self-sufficient agricultural and energy sectors could yield enormous benefits that will be felt across the country. Such a scenario would facilitate major investment in education, and a reduction in the amount of foreign aid received. So how feasible is this ambition?“
In recent years, the idea of Nigeria achieving self-sufficiency has become an increasingly realistic prospect. The country has enjoyed significant economic growth, most notably overtaking South Africa as the continent’s largest economy and predicted by many to become one of the largest economies in the world by the year 2050. Such growth is undoubtedly cause for celebration but also comes with a number of serious associated risks, many of which can be addressed by a focus on achieving self-sufficiency. Only by doing so will the economy continue to successfully, and sustainably, evolve.
How self-sufficient is Nigeria today?
Nigeria has a number of thriving industries that have contributed to, and are enjoying the benefits of, the overall economic success of the country – though very few in number.
Agriculture and food production is a critical area in the journey towards self-sufficiency and has received a great deal of attention and investment as a result. The government of Nigeria has announced an ambition to increase domestic food production by 2020. Production of rice, corn, palm oil and cocoa has already increased. To give one specific example, Nigeria is currently the second largest importer of rice but aims to become self-sufficient by 2015 and last year introduced a 100 percent tax on polished rice imports to encourage this.
The only problem is that the effect is yet to be felt. Many Nigerians still live in abject poverty.
The energy sector
Nigeria’s energy sector is another industry for which self-sufficiency is an especially important ambition and which is perhaps closer than most to achieving it.
Nigeria is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), whose mission is to coordinate the policies of the oil-producing countries. The country is estimated to have oil reserves of approximately 35 billion barrels, meaning it ranks tenth in the world. As a result, the country enjoys a status as one the main parties in the international energy sector and has strong trade agreements with countries including the USA and the UK.
The highly regarded West African business man Tunde Folawiyo is a key player in the Nigerian petroleum industry, having founded Folawiyo Energy Ltd. The company has gone on to be responsible for around 30% of premium motor spirit in Nigeria today. Given the critical role the energy sector has played in the overall economic success of the country, Tunde regularly campaigns for the sector to become self-sufficient.
A sustainable future
Self-sufficient agricultural and energy sectors could yield enormous benefits that will be felt across the country. Such a scenario would facilitate major investment in education, and a reduction in the amount of foreign aid received. So how feasible is this ambition?
International commentators are split in their opinions. Some point to the successes and rapid growth of the agricultural and energy sectors as evidence that it can be done. Others point to the challenges posed by infrastructure that is not always fit for purpose, such as dilapidated road networks desperately in need of repair to ensure maximum efficiency.
In any case, the intention and the desire for Nigeria to become self-sufficient clearly exists in a range of areas, and a number of significant steps have already been made towards achieving this – but it’s not enough.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.