Economic Growth: Why Technology Is Important

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Imagine a world with no cars, computers, phones, air conditioners, television, water heater, modern toilet, electricity and internet.

 That would be like going back thousands of years. And that is how important technology is. The main difference between 2,000 years ago and today is not the amount of money in circulation nor the level of intelligence of people (the bulk of the laws and theories we study in school were made centuries ago). The main difference is technology. What we have access to and make use of to achieve more, faster and more easily.

You probably have heard people compare Nigeria with the 1800s USA or the 1700s Great Britain. They say our democracy is in its infancy, our economy is dominated by a very few big men and our rule of law is just as weak as theirs then. The summary of what they are saying is that we are over 200 years backwards. We even still don't have a functioning rail line. We are technologically poor that we are like what some other countries were hundreds of years ago.

We still have traffic lights that are very ineffective, they apportion the same time for every direction in the junction even when all the cars are coming from just one direction. It will stop them, make way for a direction no car is heading and for a full 90 seconds. 

We still have people sweeping our roads. We still have people living on a refuse dump with pigs in the most metropolitan part of the whole country. We still can't manufacture most of the things we use. We still don't have a functional nationwide landline telephony. We still don't have a proper research institute that comes up with revolutionary ideas. We still don't have a good educational system. We still make movies where witches are plastered in white chalk and superstitions feed the theme. We now make music that is all loud screams, rubbish talk and no live instruments, and wonder why we have no Mozart or Beethoven or get nominated for Grammy.

We live at the tail end of the technological spectrum.

Our economy is aflush with labour, cheap labour. No substantial capital investment and no technological edge. We are a mix of stone age (in the remote north and some villages down in the south) and the medieval age. It's almost like we live in a federated jungle. You have to provide for yourself all you need and more emphasis is placed on manual labour.

If we don't invest heavily in our education system, make schooling compulsory and of high quality, set up functioning research institutes and move ourselves from the tail end of the technological spectrum we are not going to experience any remarkable economic growth. We can't keep having a total factor productivity that is extremely low. The rest of the world will keep speeding by and we would just be standing still or regressing.


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