•Populous countries make human beings economic assets, except Nigeria
From Ikenna Emewu in Hangzhou
China. India. USA. Indonesia. Brazil. Pakistan. Nigeria. This is the roll call of the world’s most populous countries in that order, with the first being the highest and the last, Nigeria, the least of the seven.
Of all these countries with larger population than Nigeria, only Pakistan is not a member of the G20.
Last week, the G20 Summit held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, which Daily Sun covered in the city. Looking at the list of the countries whose populations make 75 per cent of the world’s peoples was a bitter reminder of Nigeria’sf wrong position as, probably, the populous country that is not counted among the rest.
Among the world’s top 10 most populous nations, only three are not members of the G20, Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh. But although Pakistan is not a member, its economy is far better than Nigeria’s.
What then could be deduced from this? Human beings are the greatest assets for economic growth, as all populous nations are the rich members of the G20, the body for the largest economies.
In contrast, in Nigeria, a large population has been a burden that seems to pull down the progress of the country and make it lag behind in the comity of nations that have large pools of human resources.
World leaders at the G20 Summit have called for action and not mere words to take economies out of the woods. During the event, Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his interaction with the media, noted that while many countries and people make statements about helping the economy grow, many hardly take any action towards that. He stressed that only action would bring to reality the anticipated world economic growth. He also called on larger economies to do more to assist the poorer nations to grow beyond poverty. Ban said such action would assist even the UN to actualise its intention of defeating poverty and making the world better for habitation.
The UN chief also challenged the world to work towards growth that would be encompassing and take the whole globe along. He stated that, before the UN, there are no small countries or ones that should be neglected in the scheme of fighting poverty.
He commended China for helping the UN actualise the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) promising that before he leaves office at the end of the year he would ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the current programme of the UN, would be actualised.
In his address also at the opening ceremony of the summit, President Xi Jinping of China, who chaired the event, also emphasised the need for inclusive and concerted action to fight and defeat poverty and lift the world’s economy.
He said that all the nations of the world were in the same boat of progress or the lack of it, as he indicated when the leaders boarded a boat and set sail on the Xihu Lake in the host city of Hangzhou.
The Chinese media had reported that “the image of Chinese President Xi Jinping standing among leaders from emerging markets and developed countries in the cruise boat sends a strong signal: that we are in the same boat, with China charting the course ahead this time.”
In the boat were all the leaders of the 19 countries of the G20 and the leader of the European Union, the 20th member, in addition to the leaders of poorer economies that were invited to the summit. Xi invited two presidents from Africa and the chairman of the African Union. He also invited three other presidents from Asia and South America as he had outlined that the country’s target was to push for the economic interest of poorer countries in the summit it hosted.
The Chinese leader, like Ban, declared that action, and only action, would save the world’s economy.
Xi urged said in his address: “To deliver real action and no empty talk as the genuine attempt to steer the global economy out of its sluggish state.”
In his opening speech on September 4, 2016, he said the G20 had drawn up action plans in multiple fields, including sustainable development, green finance, energy efficiency and anti-corruption, “and we should implement each of them seriously”.
“Let’s make Hangzhou a new departure point and steer the giant ship of global economy on a new voyage from the shore of the Qiantang River to the vast ocean,” he said.
In contrast, however, the challenges of the two leaders seem to speak to Nigeria on how action, not words, are needed to turn the economy around. Currently, Nigeria faces dire economic situations and has slumped into recession from its former status as the continent’s fastest growing economy.
G20 Summit achievements
In the evening of September 5, 2016, the curtain was drawn on the G20 Summit and the media team was summoned to the expansive presidential conference room at the upper floor of the mansion where the Media Centre was located, to be addressed by President Xi. He was to tell the world media the outcome of the grand event that was the focus of the whole world.
That gathering had the largest African media presence in the history of the G20, with 28 representatives from 27 African countries, all Fellows of the China-Africa media exchange fellowship.
After hours of waiting, he emerged and walked straight to the podium to reel out the decisions of the meeting that hosted about 27 heads of government and many heads of inter-governmental agencies such as the UN and the World Bank.
President Xi first expressed his gratitude to the media for making the world stay abreast with the events at the summit.
However, above all else, Xi assured the gathering that the G20 was not just a body for the members but for the whole world economy, and he was certain that, as the group of states that control the affairs of the world economy, it has decided to handle global economic issues as its agenda.
Prior to the summit, China had promised that it would bring to the attention of the body issues relating to over 123 poorer countries and make the G20 see the importance of focusing on their benefits for growth. At a briefing by the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, in Beijing in May, China said until poor nations are helped out of poverty, the world would have no peace and for the world to make progress means the poor countries must be considered.
Sequel to that resolve, the summit agreed that: “We will work to ensure that our economic growth serves the needs of everyone and benefits all countries and all people including in particular women, youth and disadvantaged groups, generating more quality jobs, addressing inequalities and eradicating poverty so that no one is left behind.”
He, therefore, stated that the G20 concluded that the poorer countries are priority of the economic growth, and also that the growth and industrialization of African countries which China pursues through the awesome FOCAC has become a concern and business of the G20.
Article 13 of the decisions of the Hangzhou G20 read out by Xi noted that: “To seize the opportunity that the new industrial revolution (NIR) presents for industry, particularly manufacturing and related services, we deliver the G20 New Industrial Revolution Action Plan. We commit to strengthen communication, cooperation and relevant research on the NIR, facilitate small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to leverage benefits from the NIR, address employment and workforce skill challenges, encourage more cooperation on standards, adequate and effective IPR protection in line with existing multilateral treaties to which they are parties, new industrial infrastructure, and support industrialisation, as committed in the action plan. We also support industrialisation in developing countries, especially those in Africa and Least Developed Countries. We are committed to supporting our workforces throughout this transition and to ensuring that the benefits of the NIR extend to all, including women, youth and disadvantaged groups. We call for cooperation to maximize the benefits and mitigate the negative impact of the expected technological and industrial changes. In all these initiatives, the G20 will take into consideration the different opportunities and challenges for developing and developed countries.”
That promise by Xi at the larger world platform for the biggest economies was a further demonstration of his earlier commitment to Africa’s development for which he had pledged $60 billion in the Johannesburg FOCAC Summit in December 2015. This agenda has been pursued to a very large extent as explained in the July evaluation FOCAC forum in Beijing, attended by 53 African state members where about $51 billion of the fund had already been signed off in about 250 MoUs between China and the African countries.
Another issue of great importance the G20 discussed and decided on as read out by the Chinese President was the plan to pursue an international agenda to stop people indicted of corruption in their countries from hiding themselves or their loot in any other country. That, if implemented, would be of great benefit to Africa ,where many leaders loot the state’s treasury and ferry the money to foreign countries and leave the continent more impoverished and also evade punishment. If such laws against corruption come into force, maybe through the UN at the instance of the G20, considering that some of the members are the custodians of such slush funds, then Africa would have had a better chance of economic recovery. If that is done, the credit would go mainly to China whose hosting of the G20 Summit in 2016 made such vital decisions possible. This larger opportunity also tasks Nigeria in its quest for economic recovery to think of how to leverage on these platforms that seem genuinely ready to help for assistance in so many ways.