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Nigeria, South Africa’s under-performance hurts the black race



Last week, American technology company, Apple Inc., created the record of being the first company to hit a market capitalisation of $3 trillion. Apple hit this milestone when its share price hit $182.86. Though the share price of Apple fell later that day to $182.01, making it miss closing the trading day at the $3 trillion mark, that symbolic landmark sends a global message around. Remember that the co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, died in 2011 of pancreatic cancer. Obviously, his exit has not affected the growth of Apple. Apple has taken on a life of its own.

With the gross domestic product of Nigeria at $432.3 billion, Egypt’s at $363.1 billion and South Africa’s at $301.9 billion, Apple has a market capitalisation that is almost 300 per cent more than these three top African countries. Apple’s market capitalisation is almost seven times the GDP of Nigeria. This is not a country that is being talked about, but a company founded by three men: Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne.

It is true that nominal gross domestic product does not truly show how rich the citizens of a country are but it gives an idea of the volume of financial transactions that take place within a country. Usually, the more productive a country is, the more its GDP rises. This may not necessarily be true to the letter but GDP is a form of financial measurement of countries.

The reason for the weak showing of these three African countries is that there has not been inspiring leadership, stability and productivity that enhance the type of growth that is appealing. That Africa and the black race do not command respectful images is because there is no country in Africa and the Caribbean that has risen in magnitude and become a country with which Africans and Black people across the world can boast. Imagine if Nigeria were doing well in West Africa, South Africa were doing well in Southern Africa and Egypt were doing well in North Africa.

The way other countries reacted to African countries with border bans late last year when the Omicron strain of COVID-19 was discovered showed the weakness of Africa as a continent. If the Omicron virus had been announced in any of Europe, North America, Oceania or Asia, other continents would not have reacted the same way.

Once upon a time, Asian countries faced the type of challenge Africa is facing today. The countries of Asia were synonymous with bad leadership, poverty, and backwardness. Asians were looked down upon. Watching the film series Ip Man, which recreates the life and times of the teacher of the legendary martial artiste, Bruce Lee, one could see Chinese people of the I960s lamenting how the Americans looked down on them and treated them abysmally. At that time, it was only Japan in Asia that could compete with the West technologically. Though Israel is in Asia, it is not seen as a typical Asian country because the majority of its citizens were returnees from Europe.

Then came the four Asian Tigers: South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. They earned that name because of the rapid industrialisation and consistent and exceptionally high growth rates of more than 7 per cent annually that they recorded between the early 1960s and 1990s.

At the turn of the 21st century, China, India, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Qatar came up strong. Because of its size and technological feats, China, especially, has transformed its image and become the pride of Asia. India has also done well. UAE is doing wonders in the desert and has become a destination a tourist would be more excited to visit than most European and North American countries.

Today, in the ranking of the countries of the world according to nominal GDP, Asia has four countries in the top 10: China, Japan, India and South Korea. Europe has four too: Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy. North America has two: USA and Canada.

Consequently, the image of Asian citizens across the world has been transformed. The respect given to Asians across the world has soared. Asians are no longer seen as perennial beggars and custodians of poverty, diseases and wars. The few and specific countries in Asia known for these are singled out and named rather than giving Asians a blanket negative portrayal.

This is the disservice the under-performance of Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt is causing Africa. Nigeria and South Africa are also doing that same disservice to the entire Black race across the world. The world still sees Africa as one country because no countries have differentiated themselves by exceptional feats like the Asian countries have done. African countries are still seen as synonymous with instability, poor leadership, poverty and diseases. They are seen as people who perennially need help, need aid and need supervision. For example, there were coups d’etat in four African countries in 2021: Chad, Mali, Guinea, and Sudan. There is still some form of conflict in different countries, including Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somalia, Chad, Cameroon, etc.

The beggarly situation of Africa rears its head over the vaccines and test kits used for COVID-19. African countries have been depending on materials donated by other countries. In line with the self-preservation mindset of the world, donor countries have to take care of their citizens first before donating anything to Africa and any part of the world that needs COVID-19 support.

Not surprisingly, many of the materials the donor countries sent to some countries expired shortly after reaching their destinations. If African countries had developed the necessary capacity, this would not have been the case. Some countries, like Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, should actually be donating vaccines to other countries of the world. Such gestures attract respect.

Finally, if Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt had lived up to expectations, their success stories would not only have boosted the pride of Africans and blacks across the world but would have buoyed other African and black countries to emancipate themselves from mediocrity and strive towards greatness. Success is infectious and failure is also infectious.

Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt should know that because of their size and strategic positions in Africa, they carry a huge responsibility beyond their shores. This should ring in their minds always to help shape the thoughts that guide their actions and inactions. Their individual success or failure has a ripple effect on countries and citizens of Africa and Black heritage across the globe.

Copyright PUNCH.

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