Keynote Speech delivered by Ambassador (Dr.) Robin Renee Sanders, Former US Ambassador to Nigeria and CEO-FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative at the 18th Wole Soyinka Lecture Greenbelt Marriott, 3700 Ivy Lane, Greenbelt Maryland 20770 on June 12, 2015
It is said that every decade or so our world creates a new global order – as generations shift, leaders transform, visions change, and creativity and innovation force us all to live our lives better, longer, differently and certainly with more challenges. Today, more than ever, we need to address security challenges, abject poverty and the lack of development — protecting in the course of these efforts, basic civil and human rights.
So today I want you to think like a leader in the 21st Century – think about both the challenges around the world, and development issues – both in my view are strategic issues — needing more innovative thought, better strategic communications, and more partnerships as we move forward in the 21st Century.
This is a tall order, therefore since I am primarily before a Nigerian audience today, let’s narrows this down to the practical – looking at both Africa and Nigeria. Africa’s security and development landscape is much, much different than it was 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even last year, and so is Nigeria’s. I consider both these key components — security and economic development — fluid, needing our evermore robust, innovative efforts, action, and creative thinking.
Imperatives to addressing Security & Economic Development
So what are the imperatives? How and what does one focus on to have strong economic development in these challenging, fluid and sometimes very difficult times? African countries from Nigeria-to-Kenya-Tunisa-Libya-to-Mozambique, or better said from — Maiduguri-to-Mombasa-Midoun (Tunisia)-Misrata (Libya)-to-Maputo — and in between, are all grappling with these core pillars of today’s policy challenges. The foundation we all recognize is good governance and addressing the needs and concerns of the people in a society, in a community. When neither of those is met, they set in motion, in many respects (not all), the security challenges we see today.
Factors Affecting Security
Let’s take factors affecting security first and what might be driving the challenges we see today and then apply these to Nigeria and the Continent.
In my view, many of today’s security challenges are all wrap-up in global demographics:
What do I mean by demographics – as my definition of demographics is an expansive on. I mean, everything that impacts outcomes and geo-political relationships – from economic disparity to population sizes and breakdowns by age and gender; world resource locations (where is the oil, timber, jobs, lack of jobs, etc., where are land and water resources; what role religious differences or groups might impact community or world views, or affect perceptions. In essence, what are the human, community, or country cultural differences of which you need to be aware which might be impacting security today.
Let’s look at some examples of broad demographic categories and then drill down from there.
— What regions of the world have the most arable land and available water resources? Answer: Africa and Latin America.
— Where is the most economic income disparity today (despite our own economic challenges in the US)? They are in Africa, Latin America, and Asia, with South Africa leading the way as the country with the world’s greatest inequitable income distribution.
— What regions of the world have the largest growing youth and gender demographics? Africa, tops the list (in fact it is called the youth bulge on the Continent as you know), followed by Latin America, the Middle East, and parts of Asia (with Japan being an exception with an aging population, and China having both a large young and old population).
— On women, if the numbers of women in the world made up a single nation, that nation would be the third largest in the world behind China, and India.xii The Nigerian female/girl population is about 74 million.
— Poverty, food security, corruption, lack of good governance, lack education and employment opportunities are also top of the list for Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia. What are the demographic figures in your country, in your community? If you don’t know them you should, you need to in order to effect change as a 21st Century leader, or organization focused on well-being and giving back.
— 43 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 per day, and in most of Africa it is less than $1.00 a day. In Nigeria it is $1.25 (about naira 290). Keeping in mind this means – in search of $1.25, not a guaranteed $1.25 per day. Sixty percent of your population face this every single day.
— By 2020 1 million more people in the world will be pushed into poverty on top of the current 3 billion (source: CCTV 2014, Terryane Chabet report)i; globally 22,000 children die each day due to poverty; 1.1 billion children in the developing world don’t have access to clean water; and 75 per cent of the world’s wealth is in the hands of 20% of the world’s population.
— All of these demographics are important because they do affect geo-political and economic relationships, and world views which can be very different from our own.
If I am saying that demographics are strategic issues – and that is what I am saying — then what are the specifics for Nigeria? What are the demographic issues that you need to be focused on that are and can further feed into the security, development and economic challenges your nation faces today?
Here are a few to put things into perspective.
— Let’s start with your population of roughly 172 million people – the 7th largest in the world – being both a positive and a challenge for the nation. It is a demographic which is both fluid and requires innovative thinking to meet the economic, social and quality of life needs.
— Unemployed youth & the youth bulge (10-35 years, will represent the bulk of your population over the next 5 decades) are next on the list. Do you know what this exact figure is for Nigeria in terms of numbers?
— Currently it is estimated that you have 74+million young people in this particular demographic and growing. These are young people in search of their future with no current prospects.
— Economic inequality follows. Even for those who find “underemployment opportunities,” in general, the income inequality is great, not just in Nigeria, but as noted above South Africa holds the world’s high stat on this issue. To further highlight in the global context, according to Farid Zakaria CNN-GPS 2014 broadcast, 18 people in the world have as much money collectively as 3.5 billion folks.
Think about that! So income inequality is another strategic demographic category to which you as a 21st Century leader/organization will need to pay attention.
A few other factoids for you:
— Where does Nigeria fall on the gap between rich and poor – 44 out of 86 rated — actually one notch above the U.S. — on easier understood Palma Ratio which measures this and has a slightly difference focus than the Gini coefficient which heavily weights middle come in its ratios.
— You only have 17 million Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs), and in a population the size of yours that is not enough to grow your middle class, which is reportedly around 30 million today.iii
— Nigeria has the highest rate in the world of school age children out of school at 10 million. A key stat given that 44 percent of your population is also 15 years old or younger, and 39 percent of adults cannot read or write.
Thus, these are both economic issues and security issues rolled into one supra-paradigm for the country. So the questions for this lecture are what to do, what does Africa do; what does Nigeria do? These are the imperatives that have to be addressed in order to counterbalance the escalating challenges caused by groups (e.g. Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, ISIL) which counter world goals using tools of extremism and terrorism to achieve them.
First let me say you are off to a good renewal. For Nigeria, you have begun your initial move into a new “league of democratic nations,” with the success of your March elections and the peaceful transition of power in May, as good governance, as I noted earlier, is the baseline from which to build and move forward.
President Buhari has set out, in what I am calling, “The Buhari Doctrine,” what his vision will look like. He has already begun efforts on security:
1.) Meeting June 11 with military chiefs of Nigeria’s neighbors on Boko Haram (BH);
2.) Moving Nigerian Security Operations HQ to Maiduguri;
3.) Supporting a Command Center in Chad, although Command and Control will be under the Nigerian Army;
4.) Recommitting $100 million pledged by former president Jonathan to the BH fight;
5.) Making his first foreign visit, after being inaugurated, to Niamey; and, also thanking Niger, Chad, and Cameroon in his inaugural speech.
He also made education, agriculture/food security, improving energy and health systems, and assisting IDP’s as top priority development issues with fighting corruption being “pivotal-center” of his Administration. So there seems to be a chance now to contain Boko Haram. However, I also think that it is important to remember that Boko Haram is just as committed to its objectives and goals, and success might have to be measure in terms of containment and sustainability of recaptured territory.
Despite what I have laid out on the economic and social end, none of which is new, but which sounds awfully scary and insurmountable, there are positive things to build upon and to help and support the new President. Let’s recap those positives. Nigeria is:
— Only nation having 100+ mobile phone (important tools for business and education innovation);
— One of the Premier African foreign investment destinations;
— New economic development sectors such as information systems and technology, continued growth of SMEs, and trading have all helped spur Nigeria to where it is today.
What to Do? What Can You Do?
Development, or lack of development, better said, are probably your biggest challenges, as noted above, feeding your security challenges. But, I would also argue that there are other things at play – intangibles that are hard to address such as a “clash of civilizations,” on how groups like Boko Haram see the world. Our counter will be to make the current global context better with a focus on:
— Poverty Solutions – combating poverty and its elements (hunger, climate smart food security, education), particularly for at-risk groups such as women, girls, youth, the disabled, and elderly;
— Use Information Technology to develop “work around solutions” to advance social change entrepreneurial and vocational opportunities as well as financial literacy;
— Assist with smart climate/energy (renewables) to bring electricity/power to the nearly 120 million Nigerians without it today;
— Help with the housing deficit. At present Nigeria has a 17+million affordable housing deficit xiv (if you are poor you are also likely not to have good shelters or shelter at all);
–See infrastructure as a development issues as without adequate roads, rails, and water transport systems housing, business, and farming will all struggle;
— Work with the new Nigerian government to help improve transparency, anti-corruption efforts, and the capacity of government institutions to respond and support the needs of the people;
— Be creative on education (include vocational and entrepreneurial, and help train and expand the number of SMEs and MMEs (companies with less than 5 people).
— Assist, if this is within your expertise, with improving your country’s health care system;
— Participate in philanthropic efforts with the nearly 2 million internally displaced (IDP’s) Nigerians affected by the Northeast conflict, and those 20 million Nigerian refugees in the 3-neighboring countries;
— Keep in mind that Africans and Asian make up the majority of the 63 percent of world migrants today;
The majority of the above points are not just Nigeria’s challenges but also for the Continent. Indeed, everything that impacts people’s lives and their social, political, and economic well-being, are for me, strategic-demographics-development issues for Africa’s and its burgeoning population.
These issues are even more important today as they are affecting those in their prime education, prime wage earning years (18-40yrs), and Africa’s youth bulge (10-35yrs) — or nearly 600 million young people on the Continent.
Turning from Nigeria to the Continent, here are some additional back story strategic demographics to further provide perspective on just how critical these development issues are on from a Continental perspective, here are the other relevant figures in the back-story, to highlight what I was just talking about for Nigeria. For the Continent:
— 75 million – current number of young Africans looking for work now, out of the 1.2 billion working age population world-wide looking for work;
— 10 million – number of young Africans of working age added yearly to the 75 million already seeking jobs/employment according to the African Union (Political Body of African States);
— 547 million – number of Africans living without electricity and energy;
— 227 million – number of hungry people every day who live on the African Continent;
— 3 per cent – number of African adults with credit cards; only a quarter of young African adults have accounts at formal financial institutions — meaning the majority of Africans are still not connected in any way to the global formal financial system.
This being said, again all the news isn’t bad for the Continent either, just like it is not all bad news for Nigeria.
Here are “The Positives:”
— 7 out of the 10 fastest growing economics in the world are in Africa;
— 31 of the top 1000 Banks in the World on the “This Is Africa,” list are African Banks;
— 18 countries have GDP’s of 5 per cent or higher.
I have pointed out both the challenges and the positives because, as the global landscape continues to change rapidly, we need to ensure that the next generation of young Africans, young Nigerians sees, feels, and believes there are opportunities for themselves and their families.
My Message for Today – Lean Forward!
Remember to Lean Forward! As a Diaspora Group and take a look at the possibilities of what you can do as an organization, as an individual. There are a number of economic development areas I noted above where you can help turn the tide.
1.) Think about building more relations based on partnerships (country-to-country, community-to-community, people-to-people); and;
2.) Think about philanthropic contributions. Although improving, Africans fall behind in this area more than many other world regions.
3.) Think about the strategic long term to changes these development demographics, improve them — or in the case of population – help to build societies, communities where young people, young Africans feel: embraced, enfranchised, and most importantly empowered.
- 9/19/14 CCTV TV live newscast, Miriam Kalma reporting
- CCTV 9/19/14 live TV newscast Africa Live Report
- UN Week 2014, McKinsey Session on Nigeria, Remarks by Director Richard Dobbs, New York Palace Hotel, N.Y.
- U.S. Small Business Regional III Advocate Official Speech, July 10, 2014, Gallup Headquarters, Washington, D.C. at the FEEEDS-Gallup-Allafrica.com US-Africa Summit Forum
- 2012 speech, Commandant Eisenhower Resources College, National Defense University, Washington, D.C. on occasion of ICAF College name change
- Nigeria’s Palma Ranking http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/09/27/map-how-the-worlds-countries-compare-on-income-inequality-the-u-s-ranks-below-nigeria/
- Palma Ratio http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/09/27/map-how-the-worlds-countries-compare-on-income-inequality-the-u-s-ranks-below-nigeria/
- www.statisticbrain.com human development report
- Nigeria current GDP at $510b http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21600734-revised-figures-show-nigeria-africas-largest-economy-step-change
- Number of Nigerians without electricity http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Not-Darkest-Africa-but-Darkest-Nigeria-120-Million-Without-Electricity.html
- NB: Libyan port city from which many migrants are departing Zuwara
- Speech by former Nigerian Finance Minister & former VP World Bank Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Woodrow Wilson Center, February 2012
- 8/2014, Former Nigerian President Jonathan’s “Housing Stakeholders Meeting”; Nigeria Former Housing Minister “Housing Stakeholders Conference,” 11/2014
- 6/2015 Human Rights Watch Annual Global Summit, Chicago, Drake Hotel, panel “World Migrant Issues.”
Imperatives of Building Strong Africa Democracies & Spurring Economic Development: “Frameworks in the New African Security Context”. Ambassador Robin Sanders Keynote address at the 18th Wole Soyinka Lecture. Organised by the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity)