The Makings of a Great Generation
“In no Nation in the world does technology have the potential to unleash an unbounded future like Nigeria”
Nigeria has always been a country of potential. I grew up in the 80s fresh from the first oil boom, our nation was awash with cash, and tickets to New York were $180 (round trip), Nigerian’s garnered respect in most countries.
My father’s generation was presented with numerous opportunities as Nigeria emerging into a world that held great hope. That hope was not realized. Our nation descended into a police state…a polity repressed. Nigeria went into a protracted economic downturn that was precipitated by a currency devaluation that coincided with a cyclical downturn in oil prices.
A pass may be given to our leaders for the lack of insight into oil markets, but the naivety of our government was our real problem. Our leaders wrongly assumed that a currency devaluation would encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) in an autocratic country. Nigeria had not shown an ability to be politically or economically stable in our history as an independent nation. Nigerians became poorer overnight with nothing to show for it. The rest of the world did benefit immensely though, the price of Nigerian petroleum (Petroleum is priced in US dollars in international spot markets) was more than halved between 1985 and 1986. By 1993, the Naira which had been trading on par with the dollar in 1985 was now at an exchange rate of 17 naira to 1 US dollar
Beyond the horizon the 3rd republic beckoned. The new millennium, democracy yet again, a decade and a half overdue. New seeds of hope sown, a platform for stability laid, albeit fragile, but slowly churning out measurable gains. A regime birthed in a schizophrenic system rife with contradictions, barely surviving side by side with entrenched corruption and malaise. A nation in transition none the less.
The 3rd republic also ushered in the Millennials. A generation birthed to coincide with our second chance at redemption. The aforementioned democracy, not the cure, but a potential enabler of truly free enterprise.
The future is now
We are a generation that has the greatest opportunity to fulfil the promise of our Nations potential. We no longer have to settle for suboptimal outcomes. Technology is unleashing boundless opportunities that will shape the future of Nigeria.
I see young men and women quietly building the foundations for a technology enabled future that will liberate Nigeria. Collaboration flows effortlessly in quarters where people would expect fierce competition to be the order of the day.
I’m especially encouraged by many people I interact with who wake up daily and continue down the road less travelled irrespective of the seemingly insurmountable challenges they face.
I see future leaders toiling at their craft and building competencies that will not only serve them well in creating economic value, but may one day serve our nation and generations to come.
Many people would give an arm to be in the position many of us are today, blazing a trail that we may not fully appreciate until we are many more years deep into the journey. The sun is still hot, the air may still be polluted with the smell of diesel, and the stench of corruption still permeates from the top of Aso rock to the farthest reaches of the realm. Yet we build on, against all natural odds. We need not fight from a position of fear, grace abounds.
The future of our Nation does not rest in the hands of the kings of the earth. They lie in the hands of the disenfranchised that now have the tools to shape the future and change the narrative. The battle may be hard and it may result in some casualties. We may have some things to lose but we have much more to gain.
Akin Sawyerr a Co-Founder of Market Atlas. Market Atlas provides data analysis, and information services on select Frontier Markets to investors, researchers, and the general public.
Originally written by Akin Sawyerr in March, 2014