The Giant of Africa

Hello again, readers! I hope that you all enjoyed and were informed by my post back in January about Kosovo, the birthplace of one of my favorite musicians (Dua Lipa). I’m ready to put on my “Political analyst” hat again, and am excited to shift focus from Europe to Africa. Let’s go from very small (Kosovo) to pretty big—in this post, I’ll be profiling Nigeria, a country near the Sahara and is in the sphere of influence of Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger, and more. Nigeria is part of MINT—the up-and-coming version of BRICS (an acronym for Britain, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, which are all countries at roughly the same developmental stage in their economies and such). MINT stands for Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey, the next four countries that are promising. In this post, I also hope to explain why many think Nigeria is set to be Africa’s only global superpower by perhaps as early as 2050.

Nigeria, like some other modern-day African countries, was colonized by the British in the 19th century. It finally gained independence in 1960 and is now known for many landmarks. Its predominant source of income is oil. Its foremost trading partners are the US (which buys two-fifths of Nigeria’s crude oil) and the UK. You could say that Nigeria is an oil giant.

It’s also the Giant of Africa, because it has a giant population and an equally large economy. Currently, 20% of Africans are Nigerian, and Nigerians account for 3 whole percent of the world’s 7 billion people. Right now, a little less than 200 million people live in Nigeria, but give it 20 years—Nigeria is projecting to house over 400 million people; if you’re doing the math, that’s double the amount! It’s widely agreed upon that Nigeria is the richest country in Africa, but it’s still ranked as a middle income country. In 2017, it raked in almost 376 billion US dollars in revenue. Holy GDP, that’s large, you’re probably thinking. While it’s definitely one of the better-to-do countries in Africa, the average Nigerian has an annual income of maybe $2,500 US dollars, if we’re rounding up.

This brings us to a problem. A growing economy is great for a country, but a growing population is less so. India is dealing with a major issue now: how to use the world’s fastest growing economy to provide for the world’s fastest growing population (over 1.1 billion people and counting). Soon Nigeria will face the same struggle. More people can generate more revenue, but the flip side is that natural resources will be stretched thinner to provide basic human rights for all. Nigeria’s farmland is already being strained. On top of that, more people means more of everybody’s favorite issue: healthcare! The HIV epidemic is unfortunately alive and well in Nigeria, which has the second-highest number of afflicted people in the world with around 3 million. The country also has a problem with electricity, and faces a number of blackouts that would seem abnormal to people in the US. At Fashion Week in the capital, Lagos, last year, makeup artists had to do their work by the light of their phones’ flashlights after the power went out.

Nigeria’s money is also of late being diverted more to the military, all in an effort to fight afflictions like the Boko Haram. The Boko Haram is a terrorist group active in West Africa in countries such as Niger, Nigeria, and Chad. You’ve probably heard of the Chibok kidnapping, where hundreds of girls in the far northeastern corner of Nigeria were kidnapped and held prisoner in 2014. The Boko Haram were responsible for that. Now, Nigeria aims to wipe out the organization and perhaps others like it. Let’s hope that they are successful, and that the girls still being held captive will be released.

Nigeria’s efforts against corrupt politics are admirable. Its abundant natural resources—cough cough, oil—lead to low taxes, which is good, but maybe also a lack of transparency between the Senate—well, government—and people of Rome—whoops, um, Nigeria. This, as you can guess leads to corruption, which leads to less interest from foreign investors. Luckily, these anti-corruption efforts have led to more interest from many, such as American companies: General Electric (that may help with the power outages), Walmart, and Proctor and Gamble (the company that makes mouthwash and the Crest toothpaste in your bathroom). This leads to a better, more stable economy, which leads to a more stable everything, which is a wonderfully happy cycle.

The country is also definitely the leading one in its sphere of influence (sub-Saharan Africa). It was one of the founding members of the African Union, the counterpart to the more well-known EU in Europe, for starters. That’s a good sign—it means that Nigeria is open-minded and interested in preserving peace. And speaking of peace, it also funds Pax Nigeriana, a military effort that sends peacekeeping missions to other neighboring countries. So far, missions have been sent to Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Cote d’Ivoire. Yay peace! And lastly but most importantly, Nigeria is ethnically diverse and culturally rich. It’s home to many indigenous peoples, such as the Igbo, Edo, and Ogoni, and is also admired for its culture. Nigerian literature, for example, includes the famous novel Things Fall Apart (does it ring a bell? Maybe from an AP English class?), which discusses colonialism in Nigeria.

The bottom line is that Nigeria = ↑ people, ↑ economy and investors, and ↑ respect from other African countries, particularly those surrounding it and on the receiving end of the peace missions. And while it has its fair share of issues, like that popular girl at school with as many friends as enemies, the country is promising, intriguing, and has a bright future. (And also . . . popularity isn’t everything, so hang in there, middle schoolers!)

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