South Africa Should Invade Nigeria FAST –

Ever heard the saying… “If you don’t have a Nigerian friend, you are not a true African”? … me neither, because I just made it up. Nigerians are everywhere. I was on a Caribbean cruise about 5 years ago and when our cruise ship ‘touched down’ in St Kitts & Nevis, the first voice I heard on land was that of a Nigerian. He was a tour operator. He was speaking Yoruba. I thought to myself…WOW.

Nigerians are everywhere and the UN predicts that by 2020, 1 out of every 4 Africans will be Nigerian. Yup, if you see 4 black men walking together in downtown San Francisco, one is a Nigerian. The Nigerian brand is global, the richest black person in the world is Nigerian. The entertainment industry in Nigeria is booming. Nigerian music is currently the most exported within Africa and Nollywood is set to overtake Bollywood to become the 2nd largest movie industry in the world. In sports, Nigeria is currently representing Africa at the Confederations cup and billions of people globally will tune in to see Nigeria in action. Nigeria still tops Africa when it comes to oil reserves and exports. The Nigerian brand is huge, no better time to be Nigerian.

Top developing nations are now thinking Nigeria. China has moved in and India is still sailing through but what is South Africa doing? Speak to the average South African about Nigeria and his/her intellect will not supersede the following topics: drugs, they have taken our women, 419 and prostitution. But is this truly the case?

MTN moved into Nigeria just over 10 years ago and now rake in over R100,000,000 (USD10m) every 10 hours. Shoprite is investing over R2bn in REAL ESTATE in Nigeria and is raking in over R10m per day in profits. Woolworths, Standard Bank, Protea Hotel, Game and many other South african giants are making huge profits in Nigeria. Tons of real estate companies are pushing investments into Nigeria. Even Shanduka just recently pumped in over USD300m into Nigeria just a few months ago.

If anything, South Africa and South Africans now have to start thinking Nigeria. With talks of ‘Pan-Africanism’ intensifying and the idea ‘Free Trade’ between Nigeria and South Africa in the works, there is no better time to get yourself a Nigerian friend. Nigeria has a total road network of 193,000km a far cry from the 800,000km road network in South Africa. The Arabs are rushing into Nigeria to build new roads much of which will be tolled. There is a huge gap for South African construction companies as the Nigerian Government is pumping billions of dollars into this sector. Nigeria does not have any functional rail system – another gap for South African companies.

I was at the launch of the Gauteng Province Youth Chamber of Commerce and Industries last week where Mr Kuseni Dlamini (one of the brightest minds I have ever seen) spoke about how South African businesses should align themselves to SA Governments international interests. He insists that businesses should think global and act local. South Africa, this is the time.

60 million Nigerians (more than the total population on South Africa) spend USD8bn (about R80bn) on generators annually. Nigeria generates only 3,400MW of electricity compared to the 34,000MW generated by South Africa. By all accounts, Nigeria is virgin when compared to South Africa. These 2 nations are tipped as the giants of Africa and local South African businesses and entrepreneurs MUST start looking at business relationships and potentials in Nigeria.

The bulk of the Nigerian people are poor with many living under the $1 a day lifeline – but most Nigerians will do whatever they can legally to see there is food on their table. Nobody in Nigeria will sit back and rely on the government for grants. Nigeria does not have an identification/social-security system that works and greed exists even in the ‘Ubuntu’ culture.

Nigerians have a never die attitude and are aways willing to work for their bread. Place a healthy business idea in the hands of a Nigerian and he will run wild with it. Nigerians are honest and are not lazy – they will toil the soil if an opportunity arises. As with all economies, there are local challenges – however my plea is for more business minded South Africans to visit Nigeria and start thinking about how they can be a part of the globalisation of the Nigerian economy, lest the west and China do it for us.

Follow @lawUMK (Lawrence Umukoro)

Lawrence Umukoro is an entrepreneur and producer who has a passion for business and producing theatre, film and live events. He loves traveling and has to date visted 32 countries in 4 continents. He may be reached at Lawrence plans to retire @ 35.

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