By Peter Osalor
In the context of these entrenched disparities, an entrepreneurial revolution is the veritable last recourse for a country desperate on rejoining the mainstream of economic growth. Nigeria is a signatory to the UN Millennial Declaration of 2000 that proposes universal basic human rights to health, shelter, education and security by 2015.
Abuja has also announced plans of a more ambitious nature that involve taking the country to the top 20 world economies by 2020. While these goals by themselves are not unattainable, they clearly stretch all available projection models and call for massive political reorientation, perseverant effort and flexibility of imagination.
Of course China and India each have their own ancient civilizations behind them. This historical fact alone, however, cannot explain their amazing economic achievements. Egypt and Iraq, too, had their glorious roots in the distant past. But they do not measure up to the enviable records set by China and India.
The difference lies in the presence of a critical mass of entrepreneurs that trigger an entrepreneurial revolution with all its multiplier effect. It is this entrepreneurial spirit that is empowering China, India along with Russia and the former Soviet satellite countries in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, to rise above the gravity of years of underemployment.
The entrepreneurs in these countries are creating new wealth and generating income-yielding opportunities for so many with their vision, daring, sense of innovation and passion for results. Even United States which has been the worldâ€™s leading economic power for so long, the new creators of America wealth are the young entrepreneurs in the realm of information technology.
There is a valuable lesson here that we should never miss. The most effective way to get closer to the threshold of prosperity and to be removed farther from the weight of poverty is through an entrepreneurial revolution. Such a revolution requires a point of convergence when and where a great number of entrepreneurs will set into motion an irreversible chain reaction of productive ventures outside of the limits of cynicism and fear.
Of course, as true of any successful revolution, no radical changes happens overnight. No society can leapfrog from a stage of being a mere supplier of raw materials to one capable of orchestrating great tasks and events. There are no shortcuts.
The World Bank outlines three basic requirements for sustainable growth in Nigeria: human development, non-oil sector growth and stable governance. In essence, this triad serves as a summary of all key initiatives that Abuja needs to focus on in order to drive a sustainable entrepreneurial revolution: Creating a collective socio-economic atmosphere that encourages entrepreneurial development in its fullest and widest applicability.
Capping infrastructure deficits (in roads, power and communications) that elevate both the cost of doing business and mortality rates.
Addressing systemic imbalances in terms of policy design and implementation, together with effective measures against institutional corruption.
Re calibrating the education system to concentrate on business administration, vocational and practical skills development training.
Enhancing tax relief and access to venture capital for small business operations by means of promoting lending through equity instead of debt.
Increasing cooperation between government, private and aid agencies concerned as a means of creating a mass base of viable enterprise.
Maintaining political stability and the authority of democratic institutions by building social consensus on important policy issues.
Most of the positive strides that Nigeria has managed to pull off in recent years are because of significant strategy redirection along the above mentioned lines. While they are testament of its commitment to formidable national goals, the degree of success Abuja eventually manages to accomplish is yet uncharted.
The only certainty, to borrow from the US Presidentâ€™s proclamation, is that Nigeriaâ€™s future rests sorely on its ability to nurture and realise the imagination of its entrepreneurs.
To develop a nation of entrepreneurs, there must be a multi-sectoral, multi-level and multi-phase undertaking that begins with a collective resolve to get out of the old way of doing things. We need passionate promoters of the entrepreneurial spirit that can inspire others.
And the government too, must be equally entrepreneurial in its outlook and overall economic policy framework, and create an atmosphere that would inspire and make it easy for ordinary Nigerians to start their own enterprises, large and small. Such an entrepreneurial revolution can make winners of everyone.