Monday, November 30, 2015

An Apple Nigeria Needs To Eat

By Reno Omokri
For the second time in her existence, Apple Inc, the company founded by the two Steves (Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak) has been certified as the world’s most valuable company with a market capitalization of $772 Billion.

As I read the news on various news platform, I was struck by the comparisons of Apple with Nigeria and lessons we as a people could learn from this intellectual behemoth.

The first comparison would be that Apple is a company built on ideas. So for instance, while an American company like Ford is an epitome of the success of the industrial revolution age, Apple on the other hand is the poster boy for the knowledge worker age.
And nothing depicts this as dramatically as the fact that the former most valuable company, ExxonMobil, has a market capitalization that is only half of Apple’s ($382 Billion).

The first lesson for Nigeria then becomes that if our hopes for the growth of our economy is dependent on oil, ExxonMobil, the biggest oil company in the world, is a glaring example that we will continue to play second fiddle to those nations whose hope for the future is based on knowledge. Oil gave birth to ExxonMobil, knowledge gave birth to Apple. Go figure!

And when you look at the math, you would see that the numbers are preaching to Nigeria in a way that words cannot.
For one thing, Apple, today employs 115,000 people who together are paid more than all the approximately 40 million employed people in Nigeria make in a year.
The above should probably put Nigerian Governors on notice that their plan to reduce the minimum wage from ₦18,000 is an intellectually lazy idea that will cost them more than it would cure them.

Secondly, in 2015 Apple has made $215 Billion so far. This figure looks set to increase with the expected sales boost from Christmas. In comparison, Nigeria has made 10% of that amount in the same period.

Technology is sometimes called wizardry. Here in Silicon Valley, where I worked for four years before joining President Jonathan’s administration, I see what others have used and are using their wizardry for.

But what do we use ours for in Nigeria? We use ours to destroy each other!

In Nigeria, we do not celebrate the type of creative intelligence that would give rise to an Apple. Instead we applaud critics and cynics who do not create and who sneer at those who do.

Since May 2015, I have been back in California where I live and just being on Social Media here surrounds me with a different atmosphere than what I went through in the four years that I spoke for President Jonathan.

Even in an election year, young people in the US are more interested in tweeting and facebook-ing ideas and insights and in positively networking with each other.
On the other part of the world, Nigerian youths are allowing their strings to be pulled by puppeteers amazingly nicknamed overlords, who use them to fight their political enemies (in Nigeria a rival is automatically an enemy).

This is going on even after an election has been won and lost!

I have been back now for six months and I was invited to an event at Bloomberg News in London which I attended two weeks ago.
At Bloomberg, the discussion was on why Africans prefer to spend money on foreign luxury brands rather than grow their own.
But how can we grow each other when we are busy blowing each other up?

The founders of Apple, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, are (were in the case of Jobs) called geniuses.

A lot of people are not aware that the word genius is actually a Latin word that means a guardian spirit present at birth, which drives a person’s inclinations.

What we as Nigerians and Africans ought to ask ourselves is what is our genius? What spirit drives our inclinations?


*Reno Omokri was President Jonathan’s former adviser on New Media 

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