The economist Jim O'Neill was absolutely right to focus on the vast opportunities for business in Nigeria in his documentary, MINT: The Next Economic Giants, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 yesterday.
However, what he failed to emphasise as strongly as he should have done is the huge skills shortage in Nigeria, which urgently needs to be filled if the full breadth of opportunity currently on offer is to be capitalised upon, according to Kevin Korgba, managing director of ETK Group.
In addition to basic skills such as communication, reading and writing, there is a dearth of management, leadership, technical and administrative expertise.
Korgba, said: “The lack of talent and expertise is one of the key factors that will prevent Nigeria from fulfilling its potential. There needs to be an urgent focus on addressing this through increased access to education and training. We would also emphasise the importance of understanding the nuances of local markets as failure to acknowledge differences in leadership and management styles can make or break a business.”
ETK Group believes there are three ways in which this skills gap can be filled:
- Education: In addition to enabling more children (particularly girls) to attend school, more attention should be afforded to introducing vocational education and apprenticeships to encourage practical skills that are transferable.
- Foreign investment: Merging international best practice with local knowledge is the most effective way to boost sales and run a profitable business. Encouraging foreign companies of all sizes to enter the Nigerian market will therefore have a positive impact on the skillset of both employer and employee.
- Diaspora: There is a wealth of experience to be found within diaspora communities. A conscious effort should be made to provide incentives for Nigerians in diaspora to return through the creation of opportunities that are attractive both in relation to remuneration and career advancement, and which also place an emphasis on what the diaspora can do to help business growth in Africa.