9 takeaways from Bill Gates' speech at the expanded NEC summit in Nigeria

Gates said Nigerian government's execution plan focuses more on physical capital over human capital which doesn't fully reflect people’s needs

Gates stated this during his speech at the special session of the expanded National Economic Council meeting held at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday, March 22, 2018, with the theme "Role of human capital investment in supporting pro-poor and economic growth agenda.”

He said to anchor the Nigerian economy over the long term, investments in infrastructure and competitiveness must go hand in hand with investments in people.

“People without roads, ports, and factories can’t flourish. And roads, ports and factories without skilled workers to build and manage them can’t sustain an economy.”

“I urge you to apply this thinking to all your investments in your people. The Nigerian government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan identify investing in our people as one of three strategic objectives."

“But the execution priorities don’t fully reflect people’s needs, prioritising physical capital over human capital", the Microsoft founder said.

Here are 9 essential takeaways from Bill Gates' speech at the expanded NEC summit in Abuja, Nigeria:

1. Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places to give birth, rated worst in maternal mortality in the world only ahead Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Chad

2. Nigerian government's execution plan prioritises physical capital over human capital which doesn't fully reflect people’s needs.

3. The Nigerian primary health care system is not adequately funded, Gates ask political leaders and government officials to spend one hour at a health Centre in the next month – to see how the system can be improved - and how much good it will do when it is.

4. The agricultural sector is a pillar of the Nigerian economy, it nourishes most Nigerians and supports half the population, especially the poorest. The sector accounts for a large proportion of the GDP, and during the oil price collapse and recession, it helped cushion the economy. But it still has a lot of potentials to grow.

5. Available statistics still showed that the country “still looks like a low-income country," but if drams and ambitions are alive, Nigeria will rapidly approach upper middle income status, like Brazil, China, and Mexico.

6. Growth is not inevitable. Nigeria has unmatched economic potential, but what becomes of that potential depends on the choices you make as Nigeria's leaders.

7. Nigeria should prioritise health and education, continue to open up opportunities in the agriculture and micro enterprise sectors, as it is in the ERGP, creating the conditions where Nigerians can reach their goals while adding value to the economy - the win-win scenario

8. Nigeria's government revenue as a percentage of its GDP is by far the lowest in the world, at 6 percent. That makes investing in your people difficult. The next lowest country, Bangladesh, collects 10 percent of its GDP. Gates said the country should brush up to second-to-last in the world, to have an extra $18 billion to budget.

9. Nigeria's economy tomorrow depends on improving its schools today - and the epidemic of chronic malnutrition of children in Nigeria is a huge blow to the economy, stressing that one in three children is chronically malnourished, which is a tragedy.

Meanwhile, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria's Vice President, who presided over the NEC meeting said investing in people is a primary aspect of President Muhammadu Buhari's Economic Recovery Growth Plan.

Responding to Gates' submissions, Osinbajo noted the government was aware that people are critical to driving the economy which is why the administration is currently doing everything possible to improve the basic infrastructural elements that enhance proper human life.

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