A reflective 61st Anniversary… Tazame 6.0 – Partner’s Address By Niyi Yusuf

Nigeria’s Independence anniversary provides an opportunity for sober reflection. To different persons, Nigeria has differing meanings. To many like myself, Nigeria is that land of opportunity that we feel most grateful to. While the country may not be in the place it needs to be, Nigeria made us who we are today, especially those of us who benefitted from the public education system. To many others, Nigeria is that place they cannot get out of quickly enough. It is difficult to have a conversation with anyone without some pessimism creeping in – from concerns about the increasing insecurity to the high inflation, suffocating debt service obligations, and the rapidly depreciating currency.


Nigeria has made satisfactory progress over the past several decades, both in economic and social terms. Sustained strong growth led by the Services sector, mobile telephony, mobile payments, a big market with a youthful population, and digitalization has turned Nigeria into a developing/emerging lower-middle-income economy with huge growth potential. Albeit, poor infrastructure, low annual foreign direct investments, increasing unemployment indices, and declining oil revenues have brought Nigeria to a new stage with a new set of challenges.


This period, our message is simple: despite current challenges, the fundamentals of the nation remain attractive and we can reignite Nigeria’s growth at 61.


Despite the heightened insecurity reports, rising inflation, unemployment, poverty, and the many issues bedeviling the country today that threaten to expand our fault lines, we are reminded of the words of Hannibal, a Carthaginian General, who responded when his generals told him it was impossible to cross the Alps, into Italy, by elephants during the Second Punic War (around 218 BC) “We will either find a way or make one.”


As Nigerians, we have a role to play in creating the economic, political, and social systems that we want. Hence, Verraki is starting a campaign that will urge Nigerians to bridge the gap from potential to performance by leveraging the shift to digitalization, faster and better internet connectivity, a youthful demographic, rapidly expanding urban population, a growing talent pool, a vibrant startup ecosystem, and the African Free Trade agreement which creates a regional trading bloc, as stepping stones for the transformation of the country.


In five years, five Nigerian-based tech startups have attained unicorn valuation. We see more Nigerian youths starting up ventures to tackle some of the seemingly intractable problems that have plagued the nation. And the world has noticed the incredible innovation coming out of these startups. Out of the $1.5bn+ investments in African ventures in 2020, Nigeria had investments worth $307m closely followed by Kenya with $305m, Egypt had $269m, and South Africa with $259m. These ventures are tackling the biggest problems on the continent, thereby changing the way we live and work.


The challenges we face also present significant opportunities for our growth. However, for the country to transform these challenges into growth opportunities, we must do things differently. Nigeria needs to build modern infrastructure including digital superhighways, accelerate the diversification and transformation of the economy, provide access to financing for entrepreneurs and individuals, and invest in its people through quality education and skill acquisition. Please watch out for our campaign.


In this edition, we feature our participation at the Nigerian German Chamber of Commerce and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, where Verraki representatives facilitated knowledge sharing to top executives in the commerce and banking sectors.


The words of the foremost African nationalist, Kwame Nkrumah, comes to mind - “Countrymen - the task ahead is great indeed, and heavy is the responsibility; and yet it is a noble and glorious challenge - a challenge which calls for the courage to dream, the courage to believe, the courage to dare, the courage to do, the courage to envision, the courage to fight, the courage to work, the courage to achieve - to achieve the highest excellencies and the fullest greatness of man. Dare we ask for more in life?”


We have been given the courage to dream, to work, and to achieve. How can we manifest that asides by building the Nigeria we want?


Welcome to the 6th edition of Tazame!