21 March 2014, Abuja – Mr Jim O’Neill, a former Chairman, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, a consulting firm, said Nigeria could be the world’s15th largest economy if its large population actively participated in economic development.
O’Neill made the prediction at the ongoing 20th Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja on Thursday.
The theme of the summit is “Transforming Education through Partnerships for Global Competitiveness”.
He said that events in Brazil, India, Russia and China known as “Bricks Nations” had shown that with their large populations, they could engage the world.
He said that economic growth was driven over a long term by population and productivity.
O’Neill said that with all available indices, Nigeria had already been listed among the expected 15 largest economies by 2050.
“What you are seeing today is the list of the 15 largest economies by 2050 and Nigeria is there. This means that Nigeria can be the 15th largest economy by 2050.
“You have one ingredient in a very substantial way; you have a large and young population that is outstanding significantly,” he said.
According to him, if the population is properly harnessed, Nigeria will make it to be the 15th largest economy by 2050.
The management consultant, therefore, urged the Federal Government to ensure that all the strategies it had put in place to drive the economy were implemented.
He said that the Growth Environment Score (GES) had indicated that the largest economies in the world also had large population growth.
He noted that the countries that formed 11 largest economies in the world contributed 70 per cent of the world population.
“So, if the 15 countries can do the right things and improve productivity, the world will be diversified and be better.
“There are various variables to help them and education is one of them,’’ he said.
O’Neill also charged the government to strive to improve power supply in the country, adding that the country should emulate South Korea, which shared similar indicators with it.
“Today, South Korea has the wealth of a level which is very similar to the so-called G-7 developed nations.
“They are the only large population which has made that change in my life time.
“So, where they did well, you can emulate, harness and develop your society along those lines and you will get to be where they are today,” he said.
He said that the Korean situation was possible in Nigeria because the country had more than two times Korea’s population, adding that by 2050 Nigeria would be six times more and wealthier than South Korea.
He noted that no fewer than 45 million people in South Korea had access to modern technology which they used in helping the growth of the country’s economy.
“If 170 million population of Nigeria is given that tradition, especially the young people, it is a huge change influence, and the second aspect is power.’’
O’Neill called for more trade among neighboring countries in Africa in order to improve economic activities in the region.
According to him, if Nigeria can trade with other African nation, it will be more self-fulfilling.
He added that “everything else is education; get all your young people into proper education to give them chance to develop their skills to contribute to growth and development of the economy.
“This may determine if you will be the 15th largest economy in the world by 2050.’’