Nigeria and Industrial Revolution: Matters Arising

Omolola Lipede
20% Complete
 06-Nov-2018

For any economy to drive to maturity and industrial revolution, structural transformation must occur. Structural transformation accompanies development; they are interrelated. According to Clark-Fisher model of development, structural change must occur for any economic progress to occur. Structural transformation can be referred to as how an economy transit from agriculture to industry and from industry to services. The initial stage of any economy is the agriculture phase, then gradually moves to industry and then to services. So, it is impossible to transit to industry if the agricultural stage is not well managed. To achieve a structural transformation, the mother sector (agriculture) must be well managed, monitored and explored, hence, no development can be achieved by any country. However, some countries transit from agriculture phase to service phase; this is a faulty transition that will drag the development process of the country. Any country that desire development must experience each phase duly before any transformation can be achieved.

Industrial revolution began in 18th century when agricultural societies became more industrialised and urban. Prior to industrial revolution, which began in Britain in late 1700s, manufacturing was subsistent with the use of crude tools. Britain is seen as the birthplace of industrial revolution and number of factors contributed to revolution in the country. Apart from the fact that it had great deposits of coal and iron ore, which was important for industrialisation, Britain was the leading colonial masters, implying that colonies can serve as a source of raw materials as well as the market place for the sale of the manufactured goods.

During the industrial revolution, other sectors benefited a great deal from the transformation. Industrialisation brought about an increased volume and variety of manufactured goods and an improved standard of living for some; it also resulted in employment and improved living conditions for the poor and working class. The transportation industry also underwent significant transformation during the revolution. Also, the communication industry was not left out in the transformation process during the revolution.

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However, the revolution would not have occurred without the mother sector; the agricultural sector, increasing agricultural productivity facilitates industrialisation. The notion is hinged on Engle law which states that as income increases, food consumption reduces. When agricultural productivity increases, the farmers have more income and they demand for manufactured good, leading to more productivity in the industry sector. Also, increasing the agricultural productivity will lead to an increase in the supply of Agric raw materials. To experience industrial revolution, the raw materials have to be supplied in a sustainable manner. Most of the raw materials needed by the manufacturing companies are sourced from the agriculture sector, in a situation whereby the agricultural sector is not sustainable then industrial revolution is impossible and will remain a myth.

In Nigeria, the agriculture sector has remained undeveloped despite the numerous policies and programmes that has been enacted in the sector. Prior to the struggle the sector is experiencing, it had rich history and played a progressive role in the economy, playing a crucial role in the economic growth of the country. This success was achieved through investment in agriculture both at the federal and the regional level, various research institutes were established across the country. These research institutes include; Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Ibadan; National Institute for Horticultural Research and Training (NIHORT), Ibadan; Institute for Agricultural Research and Training  (IAR&T), Moor Plantation, Ibadan; National Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Benin; Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria (RRIN), Benin; National Cereal Research Institute (NCRI), Badeji; Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), Ibadan; National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom, Jos; National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCI), Umudike; National Institute for Fisheries and Fresh Water Research, Kanji; National Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, Lagos; National Institute for Animal Production, Zaria; International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan; National Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research (NITR), Kaduna; and Universities of Agriculture across the region. This was geared towards boosting the agricultural productivity, however, those are past glory.

Agricultural produce serving as raw materials accelerated the industrial revolution in Europe pioneered by the British. Nigeria which is a former British colony was a source of raw materials for Europe and it aided the industrial revolution experienced in Britain especially. If the country indirectly fast-tracked the revolution experienced in Britain, what is happening now? Owing to the oil boom in the country, 1970s, agriculture experienced a decline. According to statistics, the contribution of agriculture to the GDP in 1960 was about 60%, however, this decline overtime to only about 25% between 1975 and 1979. This sharp decline shouldn’t have been a headache if the productivity level didn’t decline simultaneously with the decline in the sector’s share to the GDP. At the early stage, the share of agriculture sector to GDP would increase but will experience a decline to usher in structural changes; however, this does not imply that the level of productivity will reduce. The sector share to the GDP can only decline, but the productivity level must increase. In Nigeria when the share of agriculture to GDP decline, the productivity level was also stagnated which led to the large importation bill of food.

The above chart shows the contribution of the three sectors (agriculture, industry and service) to the nation’s GDP from 2007-2016. The three sectors represent the transition an economy needs to move from primitive stage to development, which as earlier stated must be gradually to avoid faulty transition. The graph above shows that as the agriculture sector’s share declines, the industry and the service sectors’ share increase which anyone can hastily translates it to mean that the economy is experiencing a structural transition.

The country did not duly explore the industry sector because the agriculture sector productivity level has declines. Rice, which is a common food consumed by larger percentage of the population in the country is yet to be fully produced in the country because of fall in researches and technology. It is difficult for any country to industrialise without technology and quality education, the value system of the economy can affect the pace of industrialisation.

According to economists, for any country to experience industrialisation revolution, labour in the agriculture sector must be moved to the modern sector, however, the sector’s productivity must not decline as a result of the labour migration. The productivity level of the agriculture sector can be maintained through technology, training of labour, investing in factors of production, investing in agriculture researches. The Lewis model presented in 1955 known as the two-sector model and the surplus labour model focused on the need for countries to transform their structures away from agriculture towards industrial activities. The model posited that transferring workers out of the agriculture does not reduce productivity in the whole economy, this gives the industry more workers and there are more profits for manufacturers to re-invest, thereby leading to capital accumulation and economic sustainability.

Every country that has experienced industrial revolution and developed has experienced a movement of labour from the agriculture sector to the industry. During the industrial revolution in England, almost 75% of the population was dependence on agriculture in 1700. By the census in 1841, only 22% of the people worked in agriculture; there was a drastic decline for the revolution to be a blast and it was. In 1830, citizens of United States working in the agriculture sector was roughly 90% but by 1870, the figure declined to 50% and by 2008, less than 2% are employed in agriculture. Also, in 1970 China has over 80% of its populations working in the agriculture sector, however, in 2015; it reduced to about 25%. Puzzling, in Nigeria the percentage of total employment in agriculture has declined from 58.1% in 1970 to 30% in 2017, according to International Labour Organisation (ILO). Nigeria has successfully become a country where lawful law becomes lawless.

The matters arising in Nigeria’s industrial revolution are that the country has not explored its comparative advantage. Agricultural produces have to move beyond the raw and be more value added. To improve and drive industrial revolution, the country needs technology and outstanding researches on how to improve agriculture. To achieve industrial revolution, structural and institutional changes are needed, without which no country shall see INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.

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