One of the big stories during the week was the announcement that the United Kingdom will ban diesel cars by the year 2040.
To some, this may come as big news but to others, it is part of a progress report in the quest to rid the world of pollution from cars by making the switch to electric vehicles.
Other countries have previously set deadlines for a switch to electric vehicles; Austria has set 2020, Norway 2025, France 2040, Netherlands 2030, Belgium 2030, Germany 2030, India 2030 and China 2025.
So you can imagine Nigeria’s market for crude oil sales winding down on oil use in 13 and 8 years respectively.
With all productions shut in and an expected reduction in global oil price, Nigeria’s highest source of revenue would be nearing extinction.
For a country whose main chunk of revenue comes from the petrodollars, which of course has not been properly invested since the discovery of oil at the end of the 1950’s, this should serve as a wake up call to urgently review economic strategy but alas, the economic managers are blind to this global disruption.
Comparing most oil producing countries with Nigeria brings to light how Nigeria hugely mismanaged her oil wealth.
The country has lost economic mileage and failed to put in place critical infrastructure like other better managed economies as seen in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar (with natural gas) and indeed the UAE; Nigeria in its current state will take decades to catch up in terms of development.
The electric vehicle disruption should be handled like a national emergency as alternatives to economic revenue should immediately be planned and implemented before it gets too late.
Already, the dwindling oil prices and production cuts will almost perpetually result in running a budget of deficits.
Borrowing will no longer become an option as the country is highly leveraged and will soon go above its borrowing limits with the attendant risk of inability to service its debts.
I had the opportunity to speak to one of those vested with the responsibility of managing our economy and pressed him on the question of measures put in place to prevent the negative effects of this disruption to our economy. The answer I got was shocking.
His point of view is that we will continue to produce crude and buy Asian spec cars which will continue to run on fossil fuel.
Due to the nature of our chance meeting, we did not have much time to discuss his sentiments thoroughly, however, I managed to quickly point out how wrong he was.
For starters, the Asian producers are seriously working towards the deadline of the ban and have no incentive of producing specifically for our market since what we buy is a mix of brand new and fairly used cars and the numbers will not stack up for them.
So for Nigeria it will be “what you see is what you buy”, which of course will be the electric cars.
Then the question of the expected drastically reduced oil revenue with no buffer or alternative is what we could not quickly discuss.
Essentially, Nigeria does not need a prophet to make the announcements that recession looms and with no solution in the near future, the country will further sink into depression.
Here are a few opportunities that we can turn into solutions.
We can start by gleaning data from the Nigeria Customs Service and make concrete efforts to produce the products we import and consume.
To make this happen we can as a matter of emergency, invest in critical infrastructure like light and the transportation network to move goods and services around and begin to export in order to receive foreign exchange to fund our foreign trade.
Agricultural activities should be deepened nationwide and processing plants located close to source of input materials. Once a nation begins to feed itself, that nation would have gone half way towards wealth.
Money is further made from adding value to agricultural products and selling quality finished products. Nigeria has labour in abundance and only needs to polish up skills in various area of production.
For a country that lacks energy with most of the populations carrying power banks everywhere to charge phones, an innovation may be to see possibilities of inventing powerful mobile power banks to charge electric cars even while in motion.
So much revenue can be generated from such projects in the short and medium term pending when there is available charging points nationwide.
The solution lies with us Nigeria. We have to think, plan and act.
Our economic managers have to be pushed into closed doors to fashion out concrete solutions to these looming problems while the leadership of the country must have a genuine mindset to turn things around.
Keep in mind that the previous and present generation may have failed the future generation by plundering our common wealth leaving nothing to show for the resources God has placed freely to our disposal.
Nigeria needs to act before it is too late.