We live in a time of incredible change. Borders are dissolving and bringing continents into a single community. These changes have inherent threats, as well as opportunities. Countries are realizing that the Comparative Advantage argument does not hold water anymore. There is an emergence of a new vantage point, which is called the Knowledge Economy. It is driven by two variables, people and information. The rise of people power and the deluge of information is the force of revolution that advances human civilization and society. Forward thinking companies cannot underestimate the role of these variables. In the same line, every revolutionary country or company that must compete in this era must realize that they need to get the right synthesis of people and information as well to stay relevant.
Functional Knowledge has no boundaries. The knowledge economy is one where advancements and successes stem directly from collaborative relationships and information. This knowledge is a product of people. Knowledge is an asset that can be leveraged to create distinct value. A strong, sustainable knowledge economy can stimulate growth for individuals and organizations.
The Big Question is why Nigeria is yet to build a structure to compete on the level of information and knowledge. For the most part, Africa is relying on its comparative advantage-natural resources-to thrive.
From the 1970s, following the oil boom, Nigeria became enamored with spending Oil Money. The ‘Black Gold’ quickly replaced agriculture as the country’s main source of income. Unfortunately, we were misled by the Oil Boom and have gradually turned into a mono-economy, with crude oil accounting for 80% of government revenue and 90% of export earnings. Despite our ranking as the 6th largest exporter of crude oil, Nigeria is beleaguered by abject poverty, unemployment, underemployment and poor education.
Oil is fast losing its relevance. The world has moved beyond fossil fuel dependence, yet Nigeria remains preoccupied with oil at the risk of developing our vital resource – people and providing the right infrastructure to access right information and increase knowledge through education.
For us to join the world’s Top 50 Economies, we need more than oil. It involves growth that must be led by the non-oil sector-growth in the knowledge economy-as a result of the development of our people. We must seek ways to add value, invent and innovate. I believe Nigeria’s most innovative days are ahead.
I believe our understanding of these issues and the changes will help us as a country, but this can only be achieved when we have the right people and the right information. We now have to take deliberate steps to cover all the missing gaps in this effort.