Sometimes, what we see as problems are simply opportunities that we can harness to move our country forward and make some money while at it.
– By Ayandola Ayanleke
Nigeria is a very rich and beautiful country and I say that without bias. It is an obvious fact to quite a number of Nigerians and so much more to foreigners. Little wonder they come in droves to maximise the opportunities that abound in the country. For years, the country has been plagued with bad leadership whose forte is more in the area of mismanagement than actual leadership. Due to this, the wealth of the country is not as obvious as should be and what we have in lieu are different problems.
Based on the wealth – both natural and human –of the nation, Nigeria should be a force to reckon with in the international circle. Unfortunately, we are rated as one of the poorest countries in the world. That being said, there is actually light at the end of the tunnel and as mentioned earlier, many foreigners can see it.
Yes, we have a right to bemoan our situation because we expect better but the existence of the problems in Nigeria are simply opportunities that should be tapped into. The global economy has tilted towards entrepreneurship. And for many, the issue is not willingness to be entrepreneurial but lack of ideas. The solution is not in head racking but in looking at the problems in the country that you can solve and Nigerians will be grateful for. This resource is here to help you get started.
One of the major problems of Nigeria today is lack of electricity. I personally believe that if the problem of electricity can be solved effectively in Nigeria, 50% of our problems would have been solved. Let us look at it this way; Nigerians are very resourceful and resilient people. Even with the epileptic power supply, look around you at the number of small and medium enterprises we have in the country who have managed a certain level of productivity by relying simply on generators and other alternative sources of power.
This might look like an insurmountable problem but it is an opportunity for people to research alternative and more affordable mediums of generating power. The Nigerian government have failed in successfully using hydro and for whatever reason, refused to resort to sunlight as well which we have in abundance. But that does not necessarily need to stop anybody with a better idea. If it can generate constant light and it is affordable, people will come in droves to get it.
Unemployment is one issue that is seriously plaguing Nigeria. But to be fair, many of the world’s developed countries still battle with unemployment.According to CIA World Factbook, unemployment rate in Nigeria in 2017 was at 13.4%, U.S. had 4.4%, France 9.5% and United Kingdom 4.4%. However, that is not an excuse, because Nigeria’s percentage of unemployment seems to increase each year with the number of new graduates across the country.
The obvious solution to this would be creating employment through entrepreneurship. But that is just one side of the coin; there is also the issue with employability. The Nigerian educational system does not prepare students for the labour market and many Nigerians do not have a self-improvement culture. A possible solution would be a course or programme where students will be taught for a few months how their course of study is relevant to the labour market, what to expect and what not to. You can take it further by partnering with companies or organisations to employ some of the best students at the end of the programme.
The Nigerian educational system, to say the least, has gotten worse. When we hear stories of the conditions under which the older generation were educated, we will weep for the nation. What we have today is still just a system where students are fed with text books written by our parents’ generation.
For many who can afford education, they will be willing to pay for good standard. So, if you are an educator who is ready to do research and learn more outside of the Nigerian culture, you can solve this problem by establishing a school that is actually more interested in producing students who can stand at par with their counterparts anywhere in the world.
And for the middle and lower class, who cannot afford education at schools with expensive fees, there is still a solution. The school might not have the luxury that the school above has, but it can still focus on producing quality students. You can use recycled materials,second hand text books and remodelled chairs made from wood that may have been previously trashed. And for a little price, you can give the right education to students who don’t come from privileged homes.Scholarships would be a great idea.
Health is one of the most critical areas in this country, with Nigeria having one of the highest mortality rates in the world. According to a UNICEF report in 2017, Nigeria has the third highest infant mortality rate in the world. Government hospitals are usually nothing to write home about with little or no equipment while private hospitals are very expensive.
As a doctor or health worker, establishing health care that even the poor can access or a ‘doctors without boundaries’ initiative will go a long way in touching many lives. Another idea is having a website where people can send in their medical enquiries to get medical advice. Providing cheap and affordable health insurance by partnering with private hospitals is also an idea to explore.
Nigeria still has a long way to go in this area, but we’re moving fast.The world has gone too far and we need to catch up or we will soon be left behind. The problem is not that there are no technologically savvy people in the country. Nigerians – without bias or maybe, a little bias – have some of the best brains ever. The problem is an enabling environment.
This is an area to look into as well, especially if you are also technologically savvy. Create an environment where Nigerians who actually have something innovative can be encouraged through cash and kind to see it through and you get to share in the glory when the innovation actually solves problems. Our accelerators and incubation hubs are already doing a good job at this, but that’s just the beginning.
Where some people see problems, some people see opportunity. So it is left for you to decide which side to pick.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.