18 September 2012

Nigeria: Country and Indonesia - a Socio-Economic Analysis


INDEED, the August 2012 edition of Globe Asia, Indonesia's number one business magazine, listed 100 top Indonesia-based companies whose 2011 revenues have helped to insulate Indonesia from the global economic crisis.

The magazine stated in its intro: "Flushed with cash, Indonesian corporations are expanding on an unprecedented scale. With an economy growing at above six percent per annum despite the global economic slowdown, corporate earnings have been growing at 20 percent per annum over the past three years".

On its part, the World Economic Factbook (2012) stated: "Indonesia has weathered the global financial crisis relatively smoothly because of its heavy reliance on domestic consumption as the driver of economic growth(as well as) increasing investment by local and foreign investors".

Indonesia's Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, can be easily calculated but that of Nigeria is mainly political statements.

Indonesians consume what are produced in Indonesia but Nigerians consume what are produced abroad (in Indonesia, China, Malaysia, etc). Nigerians like to live big, while Indonesians like to live moderately. Despite Nigeria's trillion-Dollar oil revenue, Nigeria likes foreign loans and aids while Indonesia likes savings and investments!

Another contrast between Nigeria and Indonesia is that Indonesia-based companies are relatively unencumbered by national politics and bureaucracy.

In Indonesia, there are laws regulating industrial operations. Governments at the national, provincial and district levels create conducive environments for businesses to strive and flourish.

Fiscal policies are aimed at attracting foreign investments, protecting local industries and creating more employment. Tax incentives are part of the fiscal policy.

Lending rate for strategic sectors is lowered. Our country has something to learn here. In Nigeria, state governments seem to breathe down on small and medium scale enterprises, SMEs, and make them to close down.

In Nigeria, investors complain of multiple taxations, overbearing regulatory framework, and regular political interferences. Yet, such companies are expected to provide their own infrastructure: road network, electricity, water and security. These hinder economic development and growth.

As a result of economic boom in Indonesia, crime rate is very low. Throughout our week-long stay in Indonesia, there were no reports of violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping, murder, bomb blasts, etc.

Indonesians seem to be at peace with themselves -- happy and contented with what they have! Ironically, Indonesians are not as "religious" as Nigerians. You may not see a church or mosque, but you see a people that are respectful, hard-working and honest.

Jakarta, the Indonesian capital is a beautiful city of high-rise buildings and apartments, thousands of shopping malls, international hotels, and well-paved roads and toll-gates. It perhaps boasts of the highest number of motorbike riders in the world, all well-kited but daring.

All businesses are conducted in Indonesian language, not English language as in most countries. The mantra seems to be: "If you live in Indonesia, you must speak Indonesia!" Talk of national pride!

The Indonesian people have a culture of keeping everywhere clean: roads, buildings, offices, name it. Government offices are sparkling clean, mostly painted in white colour. Indonesia has high maintenance culture, which is lacking in Nigeria.

That accounts for the decay of infrastructure in Nigeria. Indonesians are not crazy about made-in-Europe- and America fashion. I didn't see the "sagging" and nudities of the Nigerian fashion revolution. What has happened to Nigeria's traditional wears and attires?

Indonesia is a tourist destination. What beats my imagination is how they turned a volcanic eruption site into a tourist centre! You cannot visit Indonesia without vising that site - about 130 miles from Jakarta, the state capital!

Nigeria, I think, has a lot to learn from Indonesia, one of the Asian Tigers!

Mr. Jossy Nkwocha, former General Editor of Newswatch magazine , wrote from Port Harcourt

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