What Nigeria Can Learn from Singapore – The World’s Most Competitive Economy

What Nigeria Can Learn from Singapore – The World’s Most Competitive Economy

By Nnamdi Odumody

According to a recent ranking on global economic competitiveness by Swiss Business School IMD, Singapore is now the world’s most competitive economy, exchanging positions with the United States which held the first position in 2018.

Its ranking evaluates how the economic environment of a country acts as an enabler for enterprises to achieve sustainable growth, create jobs and ensure its citizens welfare is the best.

Singapore’s rise to the first position is attributed to its advanced technology infrastructure which is the best in the Asia Pacific region. It was also recognized for planning, effectively managing its transformation, and availability of skilled labour in future-ready skills through quality educational policy. More so, favorable immigration laws have attracted bright talent from across the globe, and the Smart Nation initiative has made it easy for new businesses to be established.

Singapore’s rise to the top is proof that economic size and population is not essential in becoming the most competitive economy, if not China and India would have taken the first and second positions. Indeed, smaller economies can achieve consensus more easily and good economic policies pay off in the long run. Prof Arturo Bois, director of the IMD World Competitiveness Centre posits that when countries focus on a long term vision instead of short term measures, they improve the prosperity of their citizens.

Singapore needs to deepen her capacity to help enterprises scale like in China, United States, Israel and Hong Kong, increase the Skills Future Initiative to prepare her citizens for the future of work and create better domestic and foreign partnerships to access new markets.

China and Israel are not natural partners. In sheer size, demography, and geopolitical orientation, they appear vastly different. China has ten cities larger than Israel’s entire population. China has no indigenous Jewish community, and Israel has no indigenous Chinese community. Israel is closely aligned with China’s main competitor in the world, the United States. However, the China-Israel relationship has been expanding rapidly on a number of fronts.  The past few years have seen stark upticks in trade, investment, education exchanges, and tourism between the two countries.

Global competitiveness will be more and more defined by the innovative capacity of a country, as talents will increasingly become more important than capital; indeed, the world is shifting from capitalism to talentism. So, countries preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution which is about knowledge-based economy, driven by technology and simultaneously strengthening their political, economic and social systems will be the winners in the competitive race of the future, posits Prof Klaus Schwab, Founder of the World Economic Forum. Singapore is on the right track for this leadership.

Nigeria has a lot to learn from Singapore. Yes, understanding that top-grade educational system that has supported its mission to the top will be catalytic to the Africa’s largest economy.

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  1. Maybe the opposite is the case here. Talents chase capital here, rather capital chasing talents. Think about it…
  2. You are fantastically right. It has always been my position at every opportunity I have to speak or tutor people. Innovative capacity of a country has to do with her citizens being creative and empowered to achieve whatever is being put together as innovation. Another thing I see is “is there anything like innovation again in what is on ground or we are recreating what’s already in existence” which I know is another type of innovation. We need to start looking inward as Africa if we do not want to be taken for a digital slave on global integration. There is need for African’s cultural and traditional ways of handling things to be innovated rather than absorbing 100% western world of innovation that might eradicate most of all these values that have built Africa. Africa economic integration would make Africa maintain their pace for jobs sustainability rather than the global economic integration. This is my take about the global competitiveness though
  3. I have to respectfully disagree with my namesake Nnamdi Odumody. Capitalism has always depended on talent as talent has always been one of the distinguishing factors to establishing competitive advantages of nations. As such, the world has always been defined by talentism. Daily, however, talents are becoming easier to define. Which makes the world ever more capitalist because it remains challenging to protect and convert talent to results without capital. For this reason many with and of talents are daily exploited by those with capital. The larger the company the larger the cases. The bigger the country, the more frequent the cases.

Ndubuisi Ekekwe Response to #3: 

You are reading it literally Nam. Today, we are in a knowledge economy where knowledge is seen as a factor of production beyond the old ones by classical economists. Capital remains as a factor of production; it will always be. But the reality is that unlike few decades ago, you do not need tons of capital to create value (no one said you do not need any, you still need). So, companies like Uber, Airbnb, Facebook etc even though they need capital are winning by talent (i.e. knowledge).

Check most the largest 10 companies in the world, they were built on knowledge, not just capital. Those heavy-asset companies are making way. So, if you want to change the world, while you need capital, the key is talent (knowledge) because capital does not give that old competitive advantage it used to offer. Yes, you need it but you still need knowledge.

Jumia is more valuable than GTBank despite having asset base that is a fraction of GTBank. GTbank is the most valued bank in Nigeria!

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One thought on “What Nigeria Can Learn from Singapore – The World’s Most Competitive Economy

  1. I find this statement here quite insightful: “…talents will increasingly become more important than capital…” in relation to the global competitiveness of a nation.


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