Let Nigeria Learn From Brazil
BY BAYO OGUNMUPE
A GOOD leader must set goals for himself and the nation he leads. Which is why the Nigerian leader should create a niche for his country in the comity of nations.
Although we are currently grouped with the MINT countries, we should strive to a better position particularly within the group being occupied by our contemporaries. We are now grouped with the MINT nations of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. All things being equal, Nigeria ought to belong to the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
It is only natural that if we cannot be counted among the G7 economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, USA, we should be with the BRINCS, then there being Nigeria. If we are to badger into BRICS, we should imitate its leading light-Brazil. More so when we share similarities. We are a former colony like Brazil. In fact, Brazil’s facts file is entrancing. Brazil has a population of 201 million as at 2011. She is 86 per cent urbanized. Their citizens speak Portuguese as the official language while Spanish and English are widely spoken as well.
But unlike Nigeria, Brazil is 74 per cent Roman Catholic and 15 per cent Protestant. Brazil is a federal republic with a presidential system. She has 25 states compared to our 36. Brazil became independent in September 1822, it became a republic in 1889. Education is compulsory up till the age of 14 and there is 90 per cent literacy in Brazil. She has the largest crude oil reserves in the world.
The nation which already meets many of its energy needs through biofuels reported huge offshore oil finds in 2007. Brazil is on its way to displacing France as the world’s fifth largest economy, coming after the United States, China, Japan and Germany. Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is larger than those of the other Latin American countries combined. Brazil’s GDP grew by seven per cent in 2010. Brazil’s aerospace firm: Embraer is the third largest aircraft manufacturing company in the world, coming after Boeing and the Airbus.
Brazil is a very peaceful country, never having fought a way or skirmish since 1870. Compared with fellow BRICS countries, Brazil’s zero allocation to defence differs from Russia’s $76.7 billion; India’s $46 billion; and China’s $126 billion. Basically, the BRICS are developing countries but who are believed to be at a similar stage of development but still considered to be more developed than Nigeria’s MINT group. In fact the BRICS are expected to overtake the G7 economies by 2027.
The BRICS occupy a quarter of the world’s land area and more than 40 per cent of the world’s population in 2010. However, they accounted for only 25 per cent of the world’s gross national income. Another acronym: MINT coined in 2013 lumped Nigeria with Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey as nations in similar level of development. Though Brazil isn’t in the first world, because 90 per cent of her roads are unpaved and with pervasive slums, yet she does have plans to move up.
Unlike Nigeria, Brazil is quick to adopt new technologies. Her 90 per cent literacy lifts her tops in Information and Communications technology, compared to Nigeria’s 60 per cent literacy. Brazil’s network equipment comes from different sources: Cisco Systems (U.S.), Juniper (U.S.), Huawei (China), Alcatel (France). However, the U.S. National Security Agency’s leak through Edward Snowden, has caused Brazil to re-examine its ICT strategies.
Snowden’s allegations are that the United States is snooping on other countries. This prompted Brazil’s President to cancel a state visit to Washington in protest. What is more, Brazil is now empowering local communications companies for its network procurement. Brazil is now putting her resources in small scale internet companies. Thus, the winners are Brazil’s Datacom and Padtec, both of which already have business relations with the state owned Telecommunications Brazilian.
Brazil’s local content policy is geared towards ensuring protection against back-door security holes, a potentially leakage source for foreign made products. What is more, there are innovations coming out of Brazil in this new millennium. Embraer, Brazil’s aerospace firm flies own home grown technology, a feat that China is trying to achieve. Brazil is now on the path of building her first geostationary satellite, enhancing the country’s remote-imaging and weather prediction capabilities.
Brazil also prides herself with her online voting and banking facilities. Her information technology sector earned her $37 billion in 2012. Stefanini, Brazil’s telecommunications giant operates in various countries including Canada, China, India, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom. Stefanini is expanding all over the world. It established a new software centre in China last December.
Apontador is Brazil’s leading geo-location service company. It is developing tools which enable other companies see how users interact with their products. Predicta is also well ranked in Brazil as a tools developing company. The main point is that Brazil is aggressively pursuing the development of local technology as against Nigeria’s over-dependence on importation. In fact by comparison, taken seriatim, literacy level is the catalyst for development. Brazil is advancing because of her 90 per cent literacy rate. For Nigeria, our 60 per cent literacy rate and over 14 million unemployed put our nation out of touch with development reality.
Thus, like Brazil we should open our doors for industrial development through a coordinated small and medium scale industrial strategy. Wherefore, we should enunciate a Marshall Plan in which various programmes are combined to achieve full employment. For example, both small scale enterprises enhancement loans scheme of the National Directorate of Employment and AMPLE group investment scheme should merge under the proposed plan. This plan must target import substitution schemes as means of full employment. This is the way we can move to the next development level by imitating Brazil’s small and medium scale development programme.
Ogunmupe is a columnist with The Guardian