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‘Pandemic triggered countries to identify competitive advantages’

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Nigerian-born American academic and professor, Dr. Benjamin Ola-Akande has said that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the world to the reality that every country must identify a competitive advantage.

Ola-Akande described competitive advantage as the ability to do what nobody can do better than you, stressing that countries must be good in what they do and hold it as an advantage.

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“Competitive advantage is one or two things that you have invested in, tested, and you know you are really good at it and can deliver for you any time. Every institutions, organizations, states governments, and even countries should invest in what they are good at,” he stated.

The Professor of Economics from the University of Oklahoma, USA, during a media interview, said some of the unique opportunities in competitive advantage is technology, which is the ability to bring products and services to the market in real-time.

Ola-Akande stressed that the ability to solve people’s problems in the world has been enhanced, and now the competition has enabled the delivery of products and services faster than before efficiently.

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Interestingly, he noted that at the end of the day, people do not care about where the services are coming from, saying, “all they want is for their problems to be solved adequately. So, for organizations that see themselves in that line, it is a big opportunity. I really believe that the banking space in Nigeria is one of the most progressive, dynamic, among others. Some remarkable minds are doing fantastically well in that space. They have been able to keep peoples’ money for long and have given access.”

The Economic Professor is hoping that one or two Nigerian banks will consider acquiring an American bank. “It should happen. The first Nigerian institution that does that would be so well positioned. It will be a game-changer,” he stated.

According to him, the reality is that it does not have to be any of the big 10 banks, stressing that what is required is an entry into the banking space of the United States of America to the extent that they make a small acquisition in a small market and that is used as a trajectory to be able to establish a base in the USA.

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“I think the pandemic has given the opportunity to be able to do that and bring all the creative innovations playing out in Nigeria to the US market. This is because if you think of the US market space, it is highly sophisticated but the Nigerian processes in banking and financing are right up there. So, I see some real opportunities for us in that line,” he stressed.

While encouraging the Federal Government to make the country more conducive for investments, Ola-Akande said there is a need for a catalyst at both the state and federal levels, which must target opportunities for Nigerians in the Diaspora to be able to cross that bridge and come home.

The Economic Professor advised the government to establish the Office for Diaspora Engagement. He explained that this office would serve as a bridge between Nigerians and those in the Diaspora to bring them in whether in engineering, science, technology, among others.

He said the role is to be able to get these individuals to bring in their ideas and intellectual capacities to bear on Nigeria positively.

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