Strategic thinking has been identified as the missing element required in solving Nigeria’s economic plight.
This is according to Tunji Adegbesan, director of research at the Lagos Business School. He said a move must be made from the generic “obsessive thinking” that focuses on power, infrastructure and security.
“I consider these oppression issues which are 200 years old. These [issues] are just the requirements to be in the game [however] we are going to have to innovate to go to where we want to be.”
He added that much more thinking and quality attention to the strategic issues will take the country to its future success.
Adegbesan said much thought needs to be given to human capacity issues and optimising the young population. He highlighted that there are about 85 million people in Nigeria under the age of 18, who will need to be equipped with skills.
“We have to think about the industries where the country will have comparative advantage; we have to think about the value chains that those industries are in and where and how we can compete.”
According to Adegbesan, innovation is crucial to solving problems that are unique to Nigeria. He cited the fact that there are two million school leavers in Nigeria each year and posed the question of how the country will go about building more universities to cater for the capacity.
“When they pass, how do you solve it? Do you need 10 billion dollars to build 500 new universities? do you need to invest in tech? do you need to scale it or outsource it? That’s where our brains should be, this is where I see innovation can fix it, not the usual approach.”
Adegbesan substantiated that education is high up on the list of priorities in African households contrasted to American households where they have access to more options. “After you’ve eaten and paid rent next thing is education.”
He surmised that this social problem presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs. “Think about it as two million consumers with nothing to consume and another 10 million waiting and if you can give them something to consume, then they are your customers.”