Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Brain Gain

India has apparently been experiencing a great deal of "brain gain". People of Indian descent are returning to India to make a life for themselves. In Bangalore alone, 35,000 people have moved back. If Nigeria had half as many people move back, the change they could make would be tangible. I know that people are moving back to Nigeria in great numbers, many of them Naijabloggers. Nigeria isn't achieving the numbers needed to yank the country into development. I am by no means saying that disapora Nigerians will arrive like some commando force to wipe out all evils. But a greater diversity of experiences available to Nigeria will do her a lot of good.

Countries like China and India are leaping into the future, bypassing all the natural steps of development. It would be wonderful for Nigeria's development if it could be dragged kicking and screaming into the future. The country should bypass the extensive use of fossil fuels, and move straight to reneweable energy sources (all that blasted sunshine). What about the use of biofuels such as palm oil instead of crude oil based petrol and diesel? Take Norway, the country has as yet unexplored oil and gas reserves in the Arctic, yet it is hoping to create the world's first "hydrogen highway". Or better still, for a country where most people can't afford cars, make the roads bicycle friendly. Goodness knows village men and their bicycles are inseparable.

Leap from Nigeria's colonial Georgian railway system to the world of the TGV and the bullet train. The Cuban health system shows what can be done with precious few resources. Watch Newsnight's report on every communist's dream - a system that works. Cuba's health system is based on sickness prevention rather than sickness cure. Life expectancy in Cuba is 77 years, but in Nigeria it's 47 years.

Nigeria has the cumulative knowledge of the world at its disposal, it has to use it.


Aaron Rowe said...

Interesting your idea about bio fuels. I have been investigating doing something like that on a small scale, just for our own use, since I discovered that oil from Palms is the most productive (per hectare) of any plant.

However, how to get Palm oil cheap enough to process into biodiesel and still save money is more difficult.

I'm still thinking of importing some equipment for processing bio diesel for processing Waste Vegetable Oil, and talking to the people running all the fried food restaurants, or even the street sellers. A deal with Mr. Biggs would be sweet!

I've gone as far as buying a book on the subject, but that's it.

remi said...

Re: Countries like China and India are leaping into the future.

India has come a long way. A few decades ago, everyone wanted to leave India. The cycle has turned because there are significant opportunities for people willing to work hard/smart. And working hard (maybe smart work) means you will have a good life. India has well developed industries like technology and pharmaceutical. Some of the biggest generic drug makers are based there. They are currently building the world’s biggest refinery. Nigeria’s time will come.

As for now, working hard in Nigeria is nothing unless you are well connected.

Re: Take Norway, the country has as yet unexplored oil and gas reserves in the Arctic, yet it is hoping to create the world's first "hydrogen highway".

You are not comparing apples with apples. You can’t really compare Norway to Nigeria in that sense. Our education system (particularly universities) is not fully in sync yet. We need an education system that works; these institutions can provide research in collaboration with companies. Companies will sponsor projects by injecting money and technology know-how. These will feed into research departments, innovation will prosper and we talk about creating new technologies.

Then Nigerians will come back. Nigerians will study in Nigeria.

Any elected leader in 2007 should make the Nigerian eduactional system his priority.

Quest said...

you know why Indians are moving back? Because things are improving. The whole world is talking positively about India. Nigerians won't come back in droves unless there's a general sense that our economy (at least) is dramatically improving. That there are now jobs, and former military dictators won't be allowed to run for presidential office.

Chxta said...

Erm, where are you?

culturalmiscellany said...

Being in touch with someone who has recently returned to Nigeria from the UK I think I have something to contribute to this discussion.

I think Nigeria offers massive opportunities for people returning in terms of work and career opportunities should you be willing to graft and cut through the difficulties that are part of everyday life in Nigeria.

However, what I think is still in need of development, and what would I think (IMHO) hasten people's return is the development of the additional social activities that make living in the West still attractive to some. For example, a variety of cultural activities such as theatres, museums, art galleries, concerts etc and parks that add to the vibe and atmosphere of a country. Life for few people is just work.

Nigeria has taken, in my view, massive strides in recently years with the development of Malls, Cinemas, Eateries etc in its large cities but there is still much to be done to add to the overall lifestyle of people living in the country.

I do not support the conversion of cities like Lagos into copies of Western cities with the same shops and activities as this would be a sacriledge of the rich culture that exists in Nigeria. What I'd personally like to see is people like the Nigerian bloggers that frequent this and other sites continuing to highlight their country's culture and taking actions where they can to share this with those like myself who are interested.

I think it is these 'softer' aspects of life in Nigeria, if I may call them that, that will attracted the masses back and not necessarily the employment opportunities.

PS This was briefly discussed at a SOAS lecture a few months back and was communicated much better than I have above - sorry.

Chxta said...

Wow culturalmiscellany well written! Add to that NEPA or is it PHCN nowadays...?

Be that as it may, we know that that Problem Has Changed Name...

Anonymous said...

India's main advantage, I believe is millions of highly educated, English speaking workers. If Nigeria doesn't start paying more attention to educating it's young properly, any advance will be merely superficial, black gold cosmetics.

Jeremy said...

The Fed Govt's official estimate of life expectancy is 56 years - no one has studied the patterns behind variations, but rural-urban differences have a large role to play (life in the big cities is just that bit more short nasty and brutish).

Nigeria is approaching a turning point in the next few months, that in the best case scenario could turn into a tipping point. Whereas before many diasporics had a metaphorical suitcase packed, now many have a metaphorical ticket purchased. If a semi-sentient non-boat-rocker gets in, the rivulets of returnees will turn into a river, if not a delta..

soul said...

I'm a woman, who has got to where I am today by hard graft. I hit management in my 20's. Even though it's a fight over here, pray tell me, how many Alhaji's would I have been expected to sleep with over in Naija?.

And even though I live in a neighbourhood that isn't exactly chelsea, I know that if i call the police when something goes down they will get there. Yep it might take ethem time but they will get there.
In naija, I dunno if it's the police themselves robbing me.
Where's the reliable phone service which means I can call the police anyway?.

I don't mind living in a dirt poor country, but dirt poor has nothing to do with integrity and the simple fact IMO is that many Naija folks lack integrity.
We are out to get what we can get now and it doesn't matter who we knock down int he process.

I understand why this is the case, after years of having to do without and years of things not working, people adapt to the situation and the environment. but when will it turn around?

If you try to start something small in Naija, you know what everyone says.. haa haa it won't work. You don't know our people, just bring something, sell it quick and move on.
If you know it's going to break down, make sure you sell it quick quick and run.
Where do people think we perfected the art of 419, on ourselves of course.

The words 'innovate' 'rennovate' and 'maintenance' has disappeared from our vocabulary.