4.0 Market: A game changer
Of all the many diverse and stomach-churning challenges facing Nigeria, the most intense and urgent is the multidimensional poverty. Poverty is the foster father of insecurity, youth unemployment and other vices.
But there is a window of opportunity: the world is at the intersection of a revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we work, live, socialize and create wealth. In its scope, scale, size, speed, and possibilities, the fourth (4.0) industrial revolution is completely unlike anything humankind has experienced in history.
There are profound paradigm shifts globally underscored by the emergence of new business and governance models: the disruptions of incumbents and the re-calibration of production, distribution, marketing and consumptions vis-à-vis the adoption of e-governance, will significantly transform the entire superstructure of not only the world economy but humanity.
Therefore, fortune will no longer be found in her old address, fortune is parking into a new house, new address ‘’industry 4.0 Villa’’. Inside the Villa are new technologies like: App economy, Platform economy, Artificial Intelligence (Ai), Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Advanced Robotics, Metaverse, Autonomous Vehicles, Big Data, 3D&4D Printing, Blockchain, Materials Science, New Materials, Energy storage, Quantum Computing, Cloud Technology, Nanotechnology and Biotechnology among others. They have the capacity to create wealth that grows geometrically as against the arithmetic growth of today. Apple Inc., for instance, is now a $2.7 Trillion company, far bigger than the entire GDP of Africa, bigger than South Korea, almost the size of UK GDP and half of Japan! One company!
Therefore, looking into the panoramic view of the May 29 wedding ceremonies between the Groom (the new government) and the Bride (Nigeria), the real exam, which is the marriage, starts the Day after. Putting back smiles on the face of the malnourished Bride requires audacious, innovative ideas capable of creating new, faster and bigger wealth in order to replace the bride’s hopelessness with hope, frustration with fulfilment, disappointments with dignity.
The most veritable pathway to abundance is ‘’industry 4.0’’
Since the beginning of civilization, technology has always played a decisive role in determining which nations would be the Top Dogs and which ones would be underdogs.
Greece once ruled the world when it gained technological superiority above others. Greece invented the Wind Vane technology first, which was mounted on a clock tower called The Tower of the Winds in Athens in 50 BCE that depicted the Greek god, Triton.
Taiwan’s economy, a small country of 23 million people, less than Lagos, is three times the size of Nigeria’s economy, courtesy of technological advancement. 30% of the Taiwanese GDP of $1.3 Trillion and 60% of the workforce are from technology. No industry matters more to Taiwan than chip making, which powers everything: telephone, electric cars, computers etc. Taiwan produces 60% of the world’s semiconductors and over 90% of the most advanced ones.
South Korea is another country that relies on technology to power her modernisation, with specialization in electronics and semiconductors. Samsung’s workforce alone is about 300,000 and responsible for about 17% of their GDP with a revenue of $246 billion in 2022.
All smart nations without exception, in search of transformation ask the following seven questions in their strategy session, which the new class captain and his team need to ask before they get overwhelmed: (1) what capacity do we have? (2)What capacity do we need? (3) What are the top 3 areas where we have both competitive and comparative advantages over other countries? (4) What are the 7 MUST-WIN battles on the road to transformation? (5) What is left, new, hot or next that we can leverage on? (6) Who does what, when and how and at what cost? (7) What is the measure of success?
Against that background, besides Agriculture, Technology (not oil) is the second most important breakout opportunity for Nigeria. The raw materials are here (youths- energetic, teachable and hungry for success). But which technology is left that Nigeria can dominate and own the same way India owns software programming, Switzerland owns fintech and Israel owns Cyber Security?
Disrupt & Leapfrog
Every country that has escaped poverty did it by disrupting the status quo. Period. UAE and Qatar disrupted the aviation and hospitality industries and collected Europe and American feeding bottles. South Korea disrupted the electronics world and relegated Japan, the former king of electronics to second division, while China disrupted the Global Supply Chain to leapfrog from 30th position to world’s second-biggest economy within 30 years.
Europe dominated the first two industrial evolutions in the 17th and the 18th centuries, a period the world transited from muscle power to mechanical power. America emerged the world’s class captain through superior innovations in ICT, which gave birth to the 3rd industrial revolution.
Today, the world is in a new era of ‘’industry 4.0’’, the era of connected machines and systems, smart factories where additive manufacturing (3D& 4D Printing) is replacing traditional subtractive manufacturing. These technologies can power Nigeria’s economy to evolve at an exponential rather than linear pace.
4.0 Market: Seeking Truth from the rainforest of Facts.
Every investor (nations, corporations or individuals) always ask three fundamental questions before investing: (1) what is the size of the market? (2) What is the growth projection? (3) What is the state of competition? The 4.0 market is big, almost limitless with un-parallel growth opportunities, and little competition because the market is still at infancy. Let us have a look at just nine of the markets: (1) Public Cloud Market is valued at $483.98 Billion in 2022, growing at Compound Annual Growth Rate ( CAGR) of 14.1%, forecast to reach $1Trillion in 2030, (2) Data Storage: $247.3billion in 2023, growing to $777.98billion in 2030 at 17.8 CAGR, (3) Internet of Things: $300.3Billion in 2021, projected to reach $650.5Billion in 2026 at a CAGR OF 16.7%, (4) Cyber Security: $236.96Billion in 2023, projected to reach $479.15 Billion in 2030 at a CAGR of 9%, (5) Blockchain to reach $163 billion in 2026 growing at a CAGR of 56.3%, Autonomous Vehicles currently at $94.43 Billion is projected to reach $1.8 Trillion by 2030 at a CAGR of 38.8%,, (7) Big Data currently at $273.4Billion, growing at CAGR of 11% , (8), App economy is currently valued at $500 Billion, and finally (9), the elephant in the room: Artificial Intelligence, currently valued at $100 Billion projected to grow at twentyfold to reach $2 Trillion in 6 years.
Conversely, the global crude oil market size will grow from $ 2.7 trillion in 2022 to $ 2.9 trillion (2023 projection), a CAGR of just 5.7%. Betting on crude oil business for Nigeria’s economic salvation is like signing an irrevocable MoU with perennial failure. The crude oil horse is old, tired, and sickly, fielding it in the Kentucky Derby is like planting mangoes and expecting to harvest apples! Oil’s best years were yesterday.
With ‘’industry 4.0’’, Nigeria can halve the poverty rate in 48 months of disciplined, honest and deliberate activities, we can put 30 million youths in gainful employment. Israel and Costa Rica created a fertile and clean business environment for businesses to flourish in the 1980s, INTEL went to site its factories there, and both countries witnessed unprecedented transformation immediately. Capital has no religion or race or emotion, like a river, it flows to smart nations, where there is a potential for higher returns.
Everything is about skill, skill, skill. The CEO of the American Apple Inc, Tim Cook, with over two million Chinese app developers on iStore, when asked as to why Apple uses Chinese labour instead of Americans he said ’’No other country in the world, besides China has the combination of electronic component supply chain and large pools of skilled labour needed to make iPhones on the scale Apple needs’’.
Good news: Through ‘’New Materials’’ and uncountable mineral resources available in Nigeria, we can become a major player in the technology space, henceforth. This is why the news of the Access Bank CEO, Herbert Wigwe’s plan to establish a world class university – WIGWE University, Isiokpo, Port Harcourt is a sweet music to the ear. Once adequate resources are available, the Nigeria government should rally round Wigwe University and other private investors in higher education, the way the government broke protocol for Dangote Refinery. Wigwe University can be the first 4.0 University in Africa. More than 60% of what we currently teach in Higher education in Nigeria is obsolete or not in demand globally. A smart nation must align its university curricula to the rapidly changing global milieu. A well-funded 4.0 Wigwe University will create bigger wealth for Nigeria than petro dollar within the next ten years.
As of today, there are more than 40 million job placement opportunities in ‘’industry 4.0’’. Indeed, some 4.0 skills have zero unemployment rate such as Devops Engineering, Data Science, Ai Engineering and Platform Engineering.
Which countries and industries can Nigeria disrupt?
(1) ‘’New Materials’’: Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia with a combined GDP in excess of $4 Trillion, heavily dependent on semiconductors, are ripe for disruption, the way Turkey disrupted the Furniture business turning Italy to an ex-King. Nigeria can cause a disruption in the chip and electric battery production through the new material called GRAPHENE. Graphene is 100 times stronger than steel and just one-atom thick. It is one of the most expensive products in the world today. One ton is sold between $60,000- $200,000.
It is used in electronics, energy storage, sensors, coating, and biomedical devices. Interestingly, all the raw materials required for this product can be found in Nigeria, such as carbon, Methane, hydrogen and transition metal. Others include charcoal from wood, coconut cells, saw powder and bagasse. Elon Musk describes graphene as ‘’game changer’’ because it is a future killer of Silicon which is used in battery, electronics and chips making. In addition, all the eight raw materials required for electric battery production are also in the Middle Belt, Ekiti, Kano and Cross Rivers. The new government can invite the world’s largest Graphene manufacturer, the Canadian NanoXplore for partnership.
Wigwe University can be the first university in Africa with a Department of ‘’New Materials’’ & Distributed Manufacturing, researching, teaching and commercialising ‘’New Materials’’ in partnership with global corporations that are prepared to set up factories in Nigeria. Nigeria has about 150 million idle, unemployed or underemployed youths, we should stop reinforcing failure and use our brains. China packing Nigeria’s raw materials in the wee hours of the day from Zamfara, Osun , Ekiti, Ogun, Borno etc flying them to China to be converted to finished products for exports back to Nigeria is the reason we are poor, in debt and facing joblessness. As the Chinese DRAGON is getting fatter, longer and stronger, the Nigeria’s EAGLE is getting malnourished and about to die. This has to stop
2) Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) currently dominated by India and Philippines can be disrupted through a new BPO model from Nigeria.
There is no better or faster way to reduce the youth unemployment rate besides the New Business Process Outsourcing. (NBPO). The gestation period is 12 months.
In 2021, for instance, from the Filipinos Overseas Workers (FOWs) alone, the Philippines realised over $31 billion in cash remittances, bolstering the Philippines macroeconomic stability during the C-19 lockdown. Overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) pay taxes on income they receive in the country where they are working but are exempted from income taxes in the Philippines.
Recipients of remittances are taxed on remittances received which are treated as income.The remittance receivers pay between 5%- 33% which is the standard Philippines taxation. However, the State also in return delivers a wide range of on-site programs and services to promote and protect the rights and welfare of OFWs, which includes training, custodial services and sundry welfare assistance. It is a win-win between the Overseas workers and the State.
Nigeria can re-work the JAPA initiatives as NBPO and turn it into a $50 billion yearly income opportunity. The opportunities in the 4.0 market, New Materials, NBPO and JAPA Initiatives are limitless, provided the round pegs are put in the round holes for planning and execution. The new government would need to license two banks: Nigeria Overseas Workers Bank (NOWB) and Bank for Expatriates. Millions of commissions in USD that go to MoneyGram and Co will stay in Nigeria with these two specialised banks from 2024.
Nigeria is like a bride wearing a long face amidst wedding processional, even though the Groom (the new government) and groomsmen seem excited and boisterous. Nigerians are hurting, having been jilted 15 times by the past 15 Grooms. It is so bad that Nigerians have started awarding CERTIFICATE of SURVIVOR to themselves for outliving the outgoing class captain, (2015-2023)! Being alive is equivalent to having completed a hands-on PhD in STOICISM.
If you are reading this, you are free to affix ‘’Dr’’ to your name and profile, going forward. We are all PhD holders in Practical Stoicism. True, when compared with their colleagues in UAE, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Nigeria’s political elite’s performance back-to-back is appalling, suboptimal, putting it mildly. Instructively, however, Nature abhors a vacuum, nothing can be mismanaged in Nature ad infinitum. If the elites allow Nature to apply the Law of Compensation before they do the right things, I’m afraid, the consequences will be unpredictable.
All said, if the new class captain allows meritocracy, discipline and honesty to flourish, it is possible to grow Nigeria’s GDP to a $1Trillion in 4 years (size Taiwan), $2 Trillion in 8 years (size South Korea), $5Trillion in 15 years (size Japan) and $20 Trillion in 25 years (China Size). Paradoxically, Nigeria is richer in both human and mineral resources than all 4 countries combined. What does Japan have? Barren Mountains occupy over 73% of Japan’s landmass with an aged population. South Korea? Taiwan? They have only their brains which are not better than ours. China’s Silk & Roads projects were designed to make importation of raw minerals via the ubiquitous airports and Seaports she constructed worldwide easier for her because China is resource-starved.
While I acknowledge the complexity and volatility of Nigeria’s political economy, I remain an incurable pragmatic optimist. I am in alliance with Nelson Mandela who said: It always seems impossible, until it’s done.
Let our hopes, not our hurts or fear, shape Nigeria’s future.
• Tim Akano firstname.lastname@example.org