Last week, Julius Berger announced that it will be diversifying into the agriculture and food business. For me, this is a welcome development as the bane of the Nigerian economy is that we lack productive conglomerates who can mass-produce goods.
In November 2019, Julius Berger announced its diversification into the oil and gas industry, with the acquisition of a 20% equity stake in Petralon Energy. I see this as the maturing of the Nigerian economy as if you look at every industrialised nation on earth, their economies were driven by about half a dozen large highly diversified conglomerates.
Operational in Nigeria since 1965, Julius Berger virtually built the country from scratch. It employs 18,000 nationwide from close to 40 nations and has never been found wanting when it comes to delivering on infrastructure. It is a shining beacon in a sea of incompetent darkness.
By say 2030, the Nigeria I envisage is one dominated by about six massive private conglomerates such as Julius Berger, Innoson Motors, Dangote Industries, NNPC, Man of God PLC and Transcorp.
These companies should have a presence in every sector of the economy, employing over 20m people and be floated on the Lagos, New York, London, Frankfurt and Tokyo stock exchanges. Most Nigerians believe the country’s main problem is poor governance but the facts do not support this. Our main problem is the lack of productive capacity.
As per Julius Berger’s venture into agriculture, do you know that Nigeria accounts for 70% of the global yam market with an annual crop of 45m tonnes.
We are also the world’s largest cassava producer with a yearly crop of 47.5m tonnes.
Nigeria is also the world’s fourth-largest millet producer with a crop of 4m tonnes.
We are the world’s second-largest sorghum producer with an annual crop of 6.6m tonnes.
We are the world’s 14th largest maize producer with an annual crop of 10.2m tonnes. As you can see, no nation on earth producers as many cereal ingredients as Nigeria. We grow such a vast array of cereals so should be producing the wisest variety of breakfast cereals.
There is absolutely no justification for Nigeria not being the world’s number one breakfast cereal producer. Over the next 10 years, I want to see Julius Berger acquire cereal companies like Kellogg’s, Quaker Oats, Danone, etc. India’s Tata Industries have shown how this can be done when their tea-producing division bought Lipton Teabags
Meanwhile, my last 10-point economic revival analysis will be posted on October 1 2020. At the age of 60, a nation should be able to stand on its two feet, so enough of the spoon-feeding.
Written by Ayo Akinfe
Ayo Akinfe, born in Salford, Manchester, is a London-based journalist who has worked as a magazine and newspaper editor for the last 20 years. Ayo attended Federal Government College Kaduna and obtained his first degree in history from the University of Ibadan.