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The future of Africa? Seven times Ghana has beaten Nigeria to the prize

The future of Africa? Seven times Ghana has beaten Nigeria to the prize
April 14
09:11 2021

Did you know Ghana has beaten Nigeria twice as much in professional football matches? Nigeria has played Ghana 56 times. Of those 56 encounters, Nigeria has won 12, while Ghana has won twice as much with 24 plus 1 (25) wins. Both countries have had a stalemate 19 times. Do you still consider this a rivalry?

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On Monday, Twitter announced that it was opening its African headquarters in Ghana. Answering the question “why Ghana?” Twitter said Ghana is a champion for democracy, “a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate”.

Nigerians took to Twitter to explain why Twitter chose Ghana over Nigeria. In the process, they blamed the Nigerian government for not implementing policies that favour investments. One Nigerian even went on to suggest that Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, could not get a SIM card in Nigeria due to the government policy on registration.

However, the problems are deeper than what this single case presents. TheCable has observed for some months how Ghana always seems to beat Nigeria to the prize as the jewel of western Africa. So, we present seven times Ghana has beaten Nigeria.

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FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT

Nigeria is the biggest economy on the continent; according to the World Bank, Nigeria’s GDP is more than seven times the GDP of Ghana.  In the same vein, you would expect foreign direct investment (FDI) to flow into Nigeria at that same pace, but that is not the case.

In 2018, Ghana got more FDI than Nigeria, suggesting that investors were very comfortable with voting money into the country than they were about the continent’s Giant. Ghana got $3.3 billion in 2018, when Nigeria could only get $2.2 billion.

In 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics recorded that Nigeria got $414.79 million in FDI in nine months. But Ghana got $785.62 million in six months. Despite the size of the Nigerian economy, investors seem to favour Ghana.

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AUTO COMPANIES MOVE TO GHANA

Volkswagen unveiled Assembled-in-Ghana cars in 2020

A wise man once said Nigeria is not a big market because it has over 200 million people; a market is not just the number of people, but the number of people who can afford a product. With nearly half of Nigeria living in extreme poverty, there are certain goods they cannot afford.

More than that, the other half of the country living above poverty, is also divided into many classes. Very few of them can afford a brand new car. On the long run, the market for new vehicles is really small in Nigeria. The case in Ghana may not be much different, but the companies seem to trust Ghana.

Volkswagen, Suzuki, Toyota, Nissan are auto companies that have chosen to set up a plant in Ghana. Those are jobs Nigeria could use but have now lost to the friendly neighbours.

GOOGLE OPENS FIRST AFRICAN AI LAB IN GHANA

In 2019, Google, the tech giant, opened its first artificial intelligence lab in Ghana. The announcement was made in 2018, driving the popular question: Why Ghana?

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Victor Asemota, a Nigerian tech pioneer, answered the question simply: “Ghana is the future of Africa”. Google did not state why it chose Accra, but said it would “bring together top machine learning researchers and engineers in this new center dedicated to AI research and its applications”.

Read that as more money, more skills, and more talent for the country.

EASE OF DOING BUSINESS

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and his team at PEBEC committed to improving Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria

Did you know that Nigeria is the hardest country in sub-Saharan Africa to register a property? Of all 48 countries monitored by the World Bank, Nigeria ranked 48 in the 2020 Ease of Doing Business Index for Africa.

While Nigeria ranks 131 on the global Doing Business ranking, Ghana sits miles away at 118. This means it is easier to pay taxes, get electricity, register a property, and just do business in Accra than it is in Lagos.

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Nigeria claims to have made so much progress in this field, and the World Bank agrees, but Ghana has remained ahead of Nigeria.

COVID-19 VACCINE GOES TO GHANA

A lot goes on in international politics and diplomacy, and the outcome of that means a lot for how the rest of the world perceives individual countries. On February 24, 2021, Ghana became the first country in Africa to receive COVAX COVID-19 vaccines.

It was a historic moment in the history of the biggest health crisis in the history of the modern world. Accra was chosen for that expression of hope for a reason — easy planning.

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director,  described the arrival of the vaccines as “the historic moment for which we have been planning and working so hard”. Nigeria did not get the same vaccines until more than a week later.

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These little things count against Nigeria.

OBAMA SNUBS NIGERIA FOR GHANA

Obama in Ghana

The vaccine first-mover advantage had been in the works years before now, but little attention was paid to it. When Barack Obama became the first black president of the United States, analysts placed a big bet that he would visit Nigeria, the country with the largest number of black people anywhere in the world.

That did not happen; instead, Obama chose Ghana for his first African visit as president in 2009.

Obama was in office for another seven years, but never step foot in Nigeria. While this may not seem like a big deal, “oh he didn’t have to visit Nigeria,” this was a loud message about Nigeria.

HISTORICAL WIN: OBASANJO VS KOFI ANAN

Did you know that former president Olusegun Obasanjo, one of the finest diplomats out of Africa, wanted to be UN Secretary-General in 1991?

Obasanjo had a failed bid and attempted to lead the UN as the first black African to do so. But was unsuccessful. All Obasanjo wanted so badly was achieved by Kofi Annan, when he became the first black man to lead the UN as secretary-general in 1997.

Annan was UN secretary-general up until 2006, effectively ruining Obasanjo’s chances of ever clinching that seat. This was another historical win for Gold Coast, the only country in sub-Saharan Africa to have produced a secretary-general at that level.

From football matches to UN politics and everything in between, Ghana has found a way to outdo Nigeria, and a lot more recently. Is it time for the giant of Africa to take a step back and make new policy choices to renew its place as a choice investment destination on the continent? Or just simply start by winning football matches against the black stars? Your guess is as good as ours.

4 Comments

  1. ookkoossiissii
    ookkoossiissii April 14, 10:21

    BIAFRA IS THE FUTURE OF AFRICA. AND NIGERIA IS ITS ONLY OBSTACLE

    Reply to this comment
  2. MAT MATBURE
    MAT MATBURE April 15, 00:27

    All because of bad leadership that has made it difficult to do business or anything right in Nigeria. The same individuals that has captured our commonwealth control every facet of our society making life difficult for the masses and a big turn of for foreign businesses. They make things difficult like monopolising the economy lots of foreign companies are pulling out, the ones coming or staying are part of the milking process. SAD!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Ani-Ezek
    Ani-Ezek April 16, 09:51

    Insightful analysis.

    Regarding the global companies setting up in Ghana instead of Nigeria or relocating their main operations from Lagos to Accra, it’s important to highlight that Nigeria remains their most important target market, not Ghana. They’re in Ghana for Nigeria. Ghana offers them the enabling environment to do business, which final output will be targeted at Nigerians, largely.

    And with the arrival of AfCFTA, which translates to trade liberalisation and open borders across Africa, locating factories and operational bases in Nigeria because one wants to target Africa’s largest market is now as absolutely necessary as opening an office in Ikoyi to electronically target Ikoyi residents with strictly remote-work offers.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Kay
    Kay April 17, 14:44

    You forgot a very important one, the AfCFTA Secretariat that Nigeria wanted so badly. Lol

    Reply to this comment

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