A few years ago economist Jim O’Neill became famous for coining the now familiar phrase “BRIC economies”. It was Jim who was the first realise in the early years of the new millennium that there were “new kids on the economic block”, about to take the western world by storm. These were of course Brazil, Russia, India & China. As it turned out he was pretty much right.
Now in an insightful series on Radio 4 Jim puts forth his opinion that the next wave of economic development from a new set of developing countries is almost upon us. To describe these 4 new countries he has come with the acronym MINT economies. It stands for Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria & Turkey.
Of particular interest to all of us here at GSM, is the story of just one of the MINT quartet, and that is Nigeria. In the 43 minute programme Jim travels extensively in Nigeria speaking with industrialists, bankers, government ministers, education and health professionals. He puts forward a convincing case, portraying an exciting future for Nigeria providing it can overcome some of its core infrastructure problems. In particular Jim concentrates on the issue of power shortage. I was astonished to learn that the 170 million people are served by the same power capacity that supports just 1.7 million citizens here in the UK. No wonder power cuts are an everyday occurrence. If this can be resolved, then stellar economic growth could be a reality.
I felt an epiphany was at hand, and was reminded of a personal experience back in 2005 when for me the forecast emergence of the BRIC countries became a reality. I was sitting in a vast conference hall in Los Angeles attending a worldwide conference of IBM Business Partners. I was at the awards ceremony for the best performing IBM dealerships from across the globe. But instead of the usual suspects from established economies taking the glory, the awards went to a Russian (Europe) a Chinese partner (Asia Pacific) and a Brazilian (Americas). The hall was stunned and so was I.
Nigeria is a country that has much in its favour. It is rich beyond imagination in natural resources and has a youthful working population to match. These are the base ingredients for an economy poised for growth. As Jim points out, “this maddening but exhilarating country may well be the key to a continent whose time has come.”
I find it hard to disagree.