Viewing entries tagged
Nigeria

1 Coin, 2 Sides: 15 Million People

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1 Coin, 2 Sides: 15 Million People

After decades of British occupation and intermittent military rule, Nigeria’s roads, schools and hospitals were in shambles - an unappetizing sight to seemingly hungry western investors. But with the economic recession in 2008 came a new opportunity for the non-western world. While the countries in Europe and America were forced to close their doors, Lagos offered itself as a new frontier for ambitious entrepreneurs. Nigeria is Africa’s largest petroleum exporter, so the potential wasn’t hard to recognize, but it’s economy lacked variety.  Since then, investors and business moguls have flocked to Lagos by the thousands, creating an economy most countries in Africa only dream of. “The country recently recalculated its gross domestic product to take into account sectors of the economy that barely existed two decades ago. As a result, Nigeria determined that its GDP surpassed South Africa’s in 2012 to become the continent’s largest economy. About 15,700 millionaires and a handful of billionaires live in Nigeria, more than 60 percent of them in Lagos.” Its population is growing at an alarming rate - in fact, it is nearly impossible to estimate the population more precisely than between 13 million and 18 million. The middle class population is expected to grow by 7.6 million by the year 2030. “ Seemingly overnight, Lagos has transformed itself into a city of Davids clamoring to become Goliaths.” The city’s motto? “Be Very Rich” 


Yet with all this growth, success, and wealth, Lagos still finds itself stymied. Nigeria may be home to Lagos, a city full of money and optimism, but it is also home to violent terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and faces many challenges in the way of making it a true success story. “The miracle of Lagos is that its economy gallops onward even when fettered by the same federal incompetence that allows terrorism to go unchecked. A lesser city would be crippled. Then again, in a sense so is Lagos… How do the two worlds coexist? How does Lagos prosper when upper Nigeria roils with chaos?” Robert Draper, the author of the article Lagos: Africa’s First City, featured in the January publication of National Geographic asks, “If Nigeria is the largest exporter of petroleum in Africa, how can there be continual fuel scarcity, such that Lagosians periodically sit in gas lines for up to four hours? Why does every building in the city—not just the low-income hovels on the mainland but also the sleekest hotels on Lagos Island—rely on generators to supply round-the-clock power? Why do residents continue to pay for electricity that never arrives? Why do the city’s police set up evening checkpoints on the bridges and shake down commuters for cash? Why do the top academics at the University of Lagos carry on with strikes lasting entire semesters? What’s wrong with this picture? Corruption is what’s wrong—and because much of it exists on the federal level, Lagos is largely powerless to overcome it.”

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Nigerian Broadband Revolution?

Nigeria’s Ministry of Communications Technology (MCT) has revealed plans to connect 50% of the Nigerian Population by the end of 2015. The government is aiming to complete Phase 1 of a wireless broadband infrastructure upgrade and expansion project which is part of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan, approved by President Goodluck Jonathan in June 2013. The plan includes a Presidential Mandate that emphasizes the importance of broadband connection in multiple aspects, stating “Broadband has the potential of enabling entire new industries and introducing significant efficiencies into education delivery, health care provision, energy management, ensuring public safety, government/citizen interaction, and the overall organization and dissemination of knowledge… It has been empirically proven that every 10% increase in broadband penetration in developing countries results in a commensurate increase of 1.3% in GDP.” If this ambitious plan succeeds in its goals, Nigeria will set a worthy precedent for the emerging world, especially on the continent of Africa.

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The moment when real-world activism and armchair activism collide: How hashtags impacted activism and news in 2014.

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The moment when real-world activism and armchair activism collide: How hashtags impacted activism and news in 2014.

On April 13th, 2014, 300 Nigerian girls were kidnapped by armed gunmen from the terrorist group Boko Haram. More than 200 of them are still unaccounted for nearly 10 months later. But Obiageli Ezekwesili, former governor minister and member of the Open Society Foundation, has not given up hope. Ezekwesili was one of the promoters of the Twitter campaign #bringbackourgirls which in turn spurred grassroots campaigns and protests around the world demanding that action be taken and the girls brought home by people from all walks of life. At the end of 2014, NPR chose to feature hashtags and Twitter slogans that started an international movement or conversation and #bringbackourgirls is a shining example. In the interview, Ms. Ezekwesili states, “The social media empowers you with the kind of information that would ordinarily not be available to you. Frankly speaking, how would you have known that this number of girls were abducted so quickly as you did, were it not for social media? You know, it would’ve taken time for traditional news to get to the nooks and crannies of the United States… What the social media does is to call the attention of those who have the power to act… You advocate so that those who should be able to act would hear you.”

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