4.0 Industrial Revolution: A Game Changer

Tim Akano

Of all the many diverse and stomach-churning challenges facing Nigeria, the most intense and urgent is multidimensional poverty. Poverty is the foster father of insecurity, youth unemployment and other vices.

But there is a window of opportunity: the world is at the intersection of a revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we work, live, socialize and create wealth. In its scope, scale, size, speed, and possibilities, the fourth (4.0) industrial revolution is completely unlike anything humankind has experienced in history.

There are profound paradigm shifts globally, underscored by the emergence of new business and governance models: the disruptions of incumbents and the re-calibration of production, distribution, marketing, consumptions as well as e-governance. All this will significantly transform the entire superstructure of not only the world economy but humanity. Therefore, mega fortune will no longer be found in her old address, mega fortune is moving into a new house, new address ‘’industry 4.0 Villa’’. Inside the Villa are new technologies like: App economy, Platform economy, Artificial Intelligence (Ai), Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain economy, Advanced Robotics, Metaverse, Autonomous Vehicles, Big Data, 3D&4D Printing, Materials Science, New Materials, Energy storage, Quantum Computing, Cloud Technology, Nanotechnology and Biotechnology among others. They have the capacity to create wealth that grows geometrically as against the conventional arithmetic growth. Apple Inc., for instance, is now a $2.7 Trillion company, far bigger than the entire GDP of Africa, bigger than South Korea, almost the size of UK GDP and half of Japan! One company!

Therefore, looking into the panoramic view of the May 29 wedding ceremonies between the Groom (the new government) and the Bride (Nigeria), the real exam is the marriage and it starts the Day after. Putting back smiles on the face of the malnourished Bride requires innovative ideas capable of creating robust wealth in order to replace the bride’s hopelessness with hope, frustration with fulfilment, disappointments with dignity.

The most veritable pathway to abundance is ‘’industry 4.0’’
Since time began, technology has always played a decisive role in determining which nations would be Top Dogs and which ones would be underdogs.

Greece once ruled the world when it gained technological superiority above others. Greece invented the Wind Vane technology first, which was mounted on a clock tower called The Tower of the Winds in Athens in 50 BCE that depicted the Greek god, Triton. Technology was god!

Taiwan’s technology-powered economy, a small country of 23 million people, less than Lagos, is three times the size of Nigeria’s economy. 30% of the Taiwanese GDP of $1.3 Trillion and 60% of the workforce are from technology. No industry matters more to Taiwan than chip making, which powers everything: telephone, electric cars, computers etc. Taiwan produces 60% of the world’s semiconductors and over 90% of the most advanced ones.

South Korea is another country that relies on technology to power her modernisation, with specialization in electronics and semiconductors. Samsung’s workforce alone is about 300,000 and responsible for about 17% of their GDP with a revenue of $246 billion in 2022.

Every smart nation in their quest for transformation ask the following seven questions in their strategy session, which the new class captain and his team must ask and answer truthfully before they get overwhelmed: (1) what capacity do we have? (2)What capacity do we need? (3) What are the top 3 areas where we have both competitive and comparative advantages over other countries? (4) What are the 7 MUST-WIN battles on the road to transformation? (5) What is left, new, hot or next that we can leverage on? (6) Who does what, when and how and at what cost? (7) What is the measure of success?

Against that background, besides Agriculture, Technology (not oil) is the second most important breakout opportunity for Nigeria. The raw materials are here (youths- energetic, teachable and hungry for success). But which technology is left that Nigeria can dominate and own the same way India owns software programming, Switzerland owns fintech and Israel owns Cyber Security?

Disrupt & Leapfrog

Every country that has escaped poverty did it by disrupting the status quo. Period. UAE and Qatar disrupted the Aviation and hospitality industries and collected Europe and America feeding bottles. South Korea disrupted the electronics world and relegated Japan, the former king of electronics to second division, while China disrupted the Global Supply Chain to leapfrog from 30th position to world’s second biggest economy within 30 years.
Europe dominated the first two industrial evolutions in the 17th and the 18th centuries, a period the world transited from muscle power to mechanical power. America emerged the world’s class captain through superior innovations in ICT, which gave birth to the 3rd industrial revolution.

Today, the world is in a new era of ‘’industry 4.0’’, the era of connected machines and systems, smart factories where additive manufacturing (3D& 4D Printing) is replacing the traditional subtractive manufacturing. These technologies can power Nigeria’s economy to evolve at an exponential rather than linear pace.

4.0 Opportunities: Seeking Truth from the Forest of Facts.

Every investor (nations, corporations or individuals) always ask three fundamental questions before investing: (1) what is the size of the market? (2) What is the growth projection? (3) What is the state of competition? The 4.0 market is massive with almost limitless growth potentials, and little competition because the market is still at infancy.

Let us have a look at just nine of the markets: (1) Public Cloud Market is valued at $483.98 Billion in 2022, growing at Compound Annual Growth Rate ( CAGR) of 14.1%, forecast to reach $1Trillion in 2030, (2) Data Storage: $247.3billion in 2023, growing to $777.98billion in 2030 at 17.8 CAGR, (3) Internet of Things: $300.3Billion in 2021, projected to reach $650.5Billion in 2026 at a CAGR OF 16.7%, (4) Cyber Security: $236.96Billion in 2023, projected to reach $479.15 Billion in 2030 at a CAGR of 9%, (5) Blockchain to reach $163 billion in 2026 growing at a CAGR of 56.3%, Autonomous Vehicles currently at $94.43 Billion is projected to reach $1.8 Trillion by 2030 at a CAGR of 38.8%,, (7) Big Data currently at $273.4Billion, growing at CAGR of 11% , (8), App economy is currently valued at $500 Billion, and finally (9), the elephant in the room: Artificial Intelligence, currently valued at $100 Billion projected to grow at twentyfold to reach $2 Trillion in 6 years.

Conversely, the global crude oil market size will grow from $2.7Trillion in 2022 to $2.9Trillion (2023 projection), a CAGR of just 5.7%. Betting on crude oil business for Nigeria’s economic redemption is like signing an irrevocable MoU with perennial failure. The “crude oil Horse” is old, tired, and sickly, fielding it in the Kentucky Derby is like planting mangoes and expecting to harvest apples! Oil’s best years were yesterday.
Unarguably, Nigeria cannot win the transformation race relying on the crude oil Horse. We lost that battle 20 years ago!

However, with ‘’industry 4.0’’, Nigeria has a new, powerful Horse. We can halve the poverty rate in 48 months of disciplined, honest and deliberate diligence, we can put 30 million youths in gainful employment. Israel and Costa Rica created a fertile and clean environment for businesses to flourish in the 1980s, INTEL went to site its factories there, and both countries witnessed unprecedented transformation immediately. Capital has no religion or race or emotion, like a river, it flows to smart nations, where there is a potential for higher returns.

What does it all add up to? Skill, skill, skill. The CEO of the American Apple Inc, Tim Cook, with over two million Chinese app developers on iStore, when asked as to why Apple uses Chinese labor instead of Americans he said ’’No other country in the world, besides China has the combination of electronic component supply chain and large pools of skilled labour needed to make iPhones on the scale Apple needs’’.

Good news: through ‘’New Materials’’ and massive untapped mineral resources in Nigeria, we can become a major player in the technology space, henceforth. This is why the news of the Access Bank CEO, Herbert Wigwe’s establishing Wigwe University and making it a world class is a sweet music to the ear. Once adequate resources are available, the Nigeria government should rally round Wigwe University and other private investors in Higher education, the way the government broke protocol for Dangote Refinery. Wigwe University can be the first 4.0 University in Africa, focusing exclusively on producing competent workforce for “industry 4.0” economy globally.
Over 60% of what is taught currently in Higher education in Nigeria is obsolete or not in demand globally. A well-funded “industry 4.0” Initiaves will create bigger wealth for Nigeria than all the petro dollar realised in the past 45 years.

As of today, there are more than 40 million job placement opportunities in ‘’industry 4.0’’. Indeed, some 4.0 skills have zero unemployment rate such as Devops Engineering, Data Science, Ai Engineering and Platform Engineering.

Which countries & industries can Nigeria disrupt?

(1) ‘’NEW MATERIALS’’: Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia with a combined GDP in excess of $4 Trillion, heavily dependent on semiconductors are ripe for disruption, the way Turkey disrupted the Furniture business turning Italy to an ex-King. Nigeria can cause a disruption in the chip and electric battery production through the new material called GRAPHENE. Graphene is 100 times stronger than steel and just one-atom thick. It is one of the most expensive products in the world today. One ton is sold between $60,000- $200,000. It is used in electronics, energy storage, sensors, coating, and biomedical devices. Interestingly, all the raw materials required for this product can be found in Nigeria, such as carbon, Methane, hydrogen and transition metal. Others include charcoal from wood, coconut cells, saw powder and bagasse. Elon Musk describes graphene as a ‘’game changer’’ because it is a ‘future killer’ of Silicon, a product used in battery, electronics and chips making. In addition, all the eight raw materials required for EVs battery production are also available in commercial quantity in the Middle Belt, Ekiti, Kano and Cross Rivers. The new government can invite the world’s largest Graphene manufacturer, the Canadian NanoXplore for partnership.

Wigwe University can be the first university in Africa with a Department of ‘’NEW MATERIALS’’ & Distributed Manufacturing, researching, teaching and commercializing ‘’New Materials’’ in partnership with global corporations that are prepared to set up factories in Nigeria. Nigeria has about 150 million idle, unemployed or underemployed youths, we should stop reinforcing failure and use our brains. China’s packing Nigeria’s raw materials in the wee hours of the day from Zamfara, Osun , Ekiti, Ogun, Borno etc flying them to China to be converted to finished products for export back to Nigeria is part of the reasons why we are poor, heavily indebted and underdeveloped. The equation is not balanced: as the Chinese DRAGON is getting fatter, the Nigeria’s EAGLE is getting malnourished. This must stop.

(2) Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) currently dominated by India and Philippines can be disrupted through a new BPO model from Nigeria.

There is no better or faster way to reduce the youth unemployment rate besides the New Business Process Outsourcing. (NBPO). The gestation period is 12 months.

In 2021, for instance, from the Filipinos Overseas Workers (FOWs) alone, the Philippines realised over $31 billion in cash remittances, bolstering the Philippines macroeconomic stability during the C-19 lockdown. Overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) pay taxes on income they receive in the country where they are working but are exempted from income taxes in the Philippines. Recipients of remittances are taxed on remittances received which are treated as income .The remittance receivers pay between 5%- 33% the standard Philippines taxation. However, the State also in return delivers a wide range of on-site programs and services to promote and protect the rights and welfare of OFWs, which includes training, custodial services and sundry welfare assistance. It is a win-win between the Overseas workers and the State.

Nigeria should re-work the JAPA initiatives, merge It with NBPO to create a $50 billion economy.
Notwithstanding the plundering of Nigeria in the past 63 years by the rapacious greed elites, breakout is still possible within ten years, provided round pegs are put in round holes in planning and execution of a new transformation agenda.

Further more, the new government would need to license two banks: Nigeria Overseas Workers Bank (NOWB) and Bank for Expatriates. Millions of commissions in USD that go to MoneyGram and Co will stay in Nigeria with these two specialized banks from 2024. Why? With JAPA, Nigeria will soon have more of her citizens earning better income living outside of the country, therefore, there is a need to construct a new “dam” to harvest the opportunity in a win-win between the citizens and the State

Nigeria is like a bride wearing a long face amidst wedding processional, even though the Groom (the new government) and groomsmen seem excited and looking boisterous. The Bride is deeply hurting, having been jilted 15 times by the past 15 Grooms. It is so bad that Nigerians have started awarding “SURVIVOR CERTIFICATE” to all those who are alive to witness May 29 inauguration.
Outliving the out-going class captain, (2015-2023) is equivalent to having completed a hands-on, 8-year PhD programs in STOICISM. If you are reading this, you are free to affix ‘’Dr’’ to your name and profile.
We are all PhD holders in Practical Stoicism, i.e the art and science of surviving under extreme stress.
True, when compared with their colleagues in UAE, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the Nigeria’s political elite’s performance back-to-back is appalling, suboptimal, i.e. putting it mildly.
However, Nature abhors a vacuum, nothing can be mismanaged in Nature ad infinitum, the Law of Compensation is immutable.

All said, if the new class captain allows meritocracy, discipline and common sense to flourish, it is possible to grow Nigeria’s GDP to a $1Trillion in 4 years (size Taiwan), $2 Trillion in 8 years (size South Korea), $5Trillion in 15 years (size Japan) and $20 Trillion in 25 years (China Size). Paradoxically, Nigeria is richer in both human and mineral resources than all the 4 countries combined. What does Japan have? Barren Mountains occupy over 73% of Japan’s landmass with an aged population. South Korea? Taiwan? They have only their brains which are not better than ours. China’s Silk & Roads projects were designed to make importation of raw minerals via the ubiquitous airports and Seaports she constructed worldwide easier for her, because China is resource-starved.

While I truly acknowledge the complexity and volatility of Nigeria’s political-economy vis-a-vis public cynicism, I remain an incurable pragmatic optimist. I am in alliance with Nelson Mandela who said: It always seems impossible, until it’s done.

Let our hopes, not our hurts or fear, shape Nigeria’s future.

Tim Akano