How Small Changes Make a Big Difference in a Big Country
2 min read
Posted on: 31st July 2014
Nigeria has one of the largest economies in Africa, yet around 100 million Nigerians are still living in poverty. The last Nigerian Government pursued a ‘Transformation Agenda’ that aimed to boost trade, create jobs, modernise health care facilities and help farmers produce more food.
We worked alongside the former Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to help make this happen. Our team implemented changes to working practices that have transformed the ability of the government to get its work done and deliver the changes it wants to see for the Nigerian people.
The first step was for the government to clarify its priorities and ensure that progress against these priorities was tracked each time key individuals met.
The second step was to put in place clear parameters for those meetings, ensuring they didn’t overrun and that presentations were kept to a sensible length. AGI also worked with Nigerian public servants to sustain momentum by writing progress reports and alerting officials when these were not done on time.
These changes will contribute to the type of growth which should help to drive prosperity and help projects such as the newly refurbished railway from Kano to Lagos succeed. This new railway, which runs the length of Nigeria, provides an important commercial corridor for small businesses. A BBC report into the opening of the railway quoted many Nigerians who were pleased with the railway describing it as ‘development’ and giving credit to the government for making it happen.
Trade at the port is much brisker thanks to a reduction in red tape that will encourage businesses from Africa and beyond to continue to invest in Nigeria by making use of its resources.
The other major legacy of this work will be among government staff themselves who have risen to the occasion by improving their ability to support ministers in their work and put efficiency at the heart of their day to day work.
The work described here was carried out by the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, it is now being continued by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.