Knowledge Exchange

Nigeria, the Giant of Africa

Muhammed Manko (Class of 2021)

Nigeria, officially named the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa on the Gulf of Guinea where it borders Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin. With a population of almost 200 million people, Nigeria is popularly known for its abundant natural resources, especially in oil and gas. The country boasts of being Africa’s largest economy and projected to be ranked amongst the top ten economies in the world by 2050. Besides these facts, how much do you know about Nigeria? This time we meet Muhammed Manko, HKU MBA Full-time student, Class of 2021, who is a Nigerian native to learn more about the country.

HKU MBA: A big welcome to Hong Kong, Muhammed! What was your motivation for coming to Asia, and particularly to Hong Kong?

Muhammed Manko: For many years I nurtured the idea of doing an MBA along with a strong desire to further develop my career in Asia. I was fascinated by Asian culture as well as the fast-growing economic mode. So, with my strong passion and personal interests in Asia, I narrowed the prospects down to Hong Kong and Singapore. Subsequently, the University of Hong Kong MBA programme was the best fit for me in several ways: a global high ranking which has gotten even better this year, an esteemed reputation with a long history, English accessibility, and a 1 year working visa programme post-MBA degree that will allow me to pursue my career interests. With Hong Kong’s cosmopolitan nature, and its accessibility to the second largest economy in the world, it was a natural decision to choose Hong Kong as my next destination.

HKU MBA: Some Hong Kong people are unfamiliar with Nigeria. Please give us the 3 most popular facts about Nigeria.

Muhammed Manko: Nigeria has the highest population in the African continent, and it is often referred to as the “Giant of Africa”, owing to its large population and economy as well as its role as the ‘big brother’ of many other African countries. Nigeria’s population is nearly 200 million strong, and notwithstanding our recent security challenges, we say it’s a land of over 200 million smiles with Nigerians being  consistently ranked as amongst the happiest people in the world.

Secondly, Nigeria is a multicultural state inhabited by more than 250 ethnic groups speaking 500 distinct languages. It is the nation with the biggest black ethic group in the world.

Last but not least, Nigeria is blessed with an abundance of resources. The oil and gas sector accounts for about 10% of GDP. It is the most important sector of the economy as it accounts for around 70% of revenues. Generally speaking Nigeria’s new economy is based on other raw materials exported besides oil; telecoms, agricultural products, and locally manufactured goods. These sectors are far below their potential because of inadequate infrastructure to support their growth. There are good signs in the Fintech space too; a local fintech start-up was recently valued at over $1billion.

HKU MBA: Let us talk about the Nigerian people, culture, and language…

Muhammed Manko: Given the diversity of ethnic groups there are a number of different languages used across the nation. The official language is English, but other major languages spoken include Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo (which are the 3 major tribes). There is also Fulfulde, Ibibio, Kanuri, and Tiv.

There is an increasing wealth gap in Nigeria with the rich getting richer and the poorer. However, there is great value in education for Nigerians. Nigerians spend their life savings on education for themselves or their loved ones. It is also true that you will find Nigerians anywhere around the world as we are very active when it comes to emigration.

I’d like to describe Nigerians as hard working and resilient. They will always find ways to strive and succeed. A high sense of community and respect for others is a part of our culture and is something I find it has in common with Asian culture.

HKU MBA: What is your soul food in Nigeria?

Muhammed Manko: There are a lot of cuisines in Nigeria depending on what part of the country you find yourself. For me It is called Tuwon Shinkafa which is a rice cake that is quite famous in Northern Nigeria.

HKU MBA: How do you foresee the future of Nigeria?

Muhammed Manko: There are currently numerous challenges in the country which were further heightened by the pandemic. These challenges include insurgency, depressed infrastructure limiting the growth of industries, and a long history of poor leadership. However, with our exceptional human resource I am extremely positive about the future of my country; we have come a long way. There are so many new opportunities springing up across various and diversified industries. Having the biggest economy and population in Africa will lead us to having a significant influence across the region and the world. The Nigerian economy became the 21st largest economy in the world and the country is projected to show strong economic growth over the coming decade. Given this bright future, I see a wave of Nigerians working and studying overseas and then returning back to the country for professional and investment opportunities.

Over the next decade I am confident that Nigeria will capitalise on its advantageous position. There is immense potential to take a much better spot in the committee of nations.