The recurrent low ranking of Nigeria on many global development indices should worry all Nigerians and their leaders especially as that consistent abysmal rating re-echoed once again during the just-concluded 2016 Group of Twenty most industrialised countries, G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China.
At that summit, the focus was on industrialisation in Africa and Nigeria was, sadly, rated among the least developed countries. The nation’s leaders should, therefore, act fast to reverse this trend.
The ranking is comparable to the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI), a composite statistic used to rank countries with regard to life expectancy, education and per capita income, on which Nigeria has consistently ranked very low over many years.
According to the report submitted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to the G20 Development Working Group (DWG) in China, Nigeria and 12 other countries were listed as the lower Middle-Income Countries. The other countries are Cape Verde, Cameroun, Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivore, Djibouti, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe, Swaziland and Zambia.
The report was prepared at the request of the G20 Development Working Group in an attempt to achieve a wider consensus on issues, which include promoting the implementation of UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda, were adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at a historic UN Summit in New York and they came into force on January 1, 2016.
Over the next 15 years, based on these new universally applicable goals, countries are expected to mobilise efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
UNIDO classified as middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa those with gross domestic income (GDI) per capita of between $1,026 and $12,475.
The countries are Angola, Botswana, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Mauritius, Namibia and South Africa with a GDI of at least $4, 036. The report notes that 48 of Africa’s total of 54 countries are in sub-Saharan Africa and six in North Africa.
Out of the world’s 48 least developed countries, 34 are in Africa, 13 in Asia and the Pacific and one in Latin America. And with more than 880 million people, which is 12 per cent of the world’s population, the countries account for less than two per cent of global GDP and about one per cent of global trade in goods.
How can these countries overcome the gross poverty syndrome? UNIDO recommends that Africa and the LDCs should move away from the “generalised” industrial policies that have proved ineffective over the last three decades.
They also need to build strong institutions and viable investment climates. They need to realise the full potential of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and opportunities for collaboration among industries, governments and other stakeholders.
The report recommends national policies as well as regional and global collective actions to advance industrialisation and end poverty and hunger. It states, rather authoritatively, that rarely has a country evolved from poor to rich without sustained structural transformation from an agrarian or resource-based economy towards an industrial or service-based economy. Transformation is, therefore, important to ensure wealth creation through increased economic integration and productivity.
The report sees agribusiness as having a huge potential in Africa and LDCs, noting that productivity is low and inefficient but that stronger links between farmers and agro-industry and tighter clusters of small producers can enhance supply-chain efficiencies, improve access to local and global markets and increase real incomes of farmers, farm workers and their families.
The UNIDO report came at a right time when Nigeria is passing through severe economic recession occasioned by low productivity in both the industrial and agricultural sectors. The pervading economic recession has re-enforced the belief that nothing can be more sustaining of an economy than a well-structured industrial production base with agriculture as a critical source of raw materials input.
Government and indeed experts are, therefore, right in calling for economic diversification to pull Nigeria out of the cesspit of virtual dependence on crude oil. There is no better time to do this than now.
It is indeed scandalous that Nigeria, with a monumental wealth of natural and human endowments, is classified alongside the poorest countries of the world due to gross mismanagement and poor leadership.
The new Agenda 2030 provides Nigeria with another opportunity to do away with corruption and, instead, work towards filling her huge development gaps.