The Asian Tigers versus the African Parrots


The Asian Tigers versus the African Parrots

If you are conversant with the holy book, you often see that faith inspired men of God usually use animals, ants or birds to explain some important subjects to drive their point across. I recall one of the fascinating lessons on planning in the book of Proverbs Chapter 6 verse 6 to 11. That story captures the article we are about to discussed perfectly.   ‘Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and be wise! 7 Even though they have no prince, governor, or ruler to make them work, 8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. 9 But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? I want you to learn this lesson: 10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest — 11 and poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.’

Here, I am using tiger and parrot to explain the unexplainable reason while some people are progressive and some others are seemingly condemned themselves to the back side of life. I am sure the word Asian Tigers are not strange to us but for the benefit of those that are not familiar with the usage, let me bring them up to speed with the title of the article.

The Asian Tigers or Asian Dragons is a term used in reference to the highly free and developed economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. These nations and areas were notable for maintaining exceptionally high growth rates (in excess of 7 percent a year) and rapid industrialization between the early 1960s and 1990s. By the 21st century, all four had developed into advanced and high-income economies, specializing in areas of competitive advantage. For example, Hong Kong and Singapore have become world-leading international financial centers, whereas South Korea and Taiwan are world leaders in manufacturing information technology. Their economic success stories have served as role models for many developing countries.

What led these economies to their success? These economies are notable for maintaining an exceptionally high growth rates, over 7% a year from the 1960s to 1990s. Through this period, they became industrialized, even though they are not rich in natural resources.

The reason behind their astonishing growth is that they found their Comparative Advantage. Hong Kong and Singapore focused on being international financial centers and Singapore in particular also focused on becoming a port hub. Taiwan and South Korea on the other hand focused on their manufacturing sector with an emphasis on information technology. All of these nations in one way or another became some of the leading exporters to the U.S. and they definitely export more than they import. Let us not forget that they focused on HIGH TECHNOLOGY, and not on the export of agricultural luxury products like we do in Africa. Even though I see nothing wrong on exporting agricultural products, Malaysia is doing that for instance and has become wealthier, we should focus on our own comparative advantage.

But what else is their secret of their success? My next answer is their focus on EDUCATION. As they say in the United States, knowledge is power, and this is what the Asian Tigers focused on. And I feel that is lacking in the African continent. Our education system is very poor and we do not put an emphasis on educating our youth. If African states could get their act together, we would become industrialized like the Asian Tigers and other Asian states. Sometimes I feel within Nigeria, that education amongst the social classes is the greatest divider. We need to close this divide.

Another secret to the Asian Tigers success is that they established a banking system that favors their own states. In addition, they have also limited their foreign spending, in which they invest solely in their nations. While in Nigeria for instance, our so called leaders do not even invest in their nation. They will purchase homes in Europe, Dubai or in the United States. Capital flight must be stopped.

I could go on, but the main components of why the Asian Tigers have excelled, is through smart finance and a focus on education. This should be the primary focus in Nigeria, if we want to excel. Maybe Nigerians should focus on our healthcare industry, since I see many Nigerians who live in the U.S. are focused on that particular sector and excel.

On the other hand, If you compare the Asian Tigers with the African Parrot; this is not a name or slang in the business world for Africans. This is my own equivalent of the Asian Tiger which ably represent our people, who like to watch and pass commentary like parrot on various socio political or economic issues without any tangible or cogent point to help us solve the seemingly pig-headed problems bedeviling of continent and our country in particular. Such people are called ‘arm chair critics’. They know next to nothing about solutions driven approach to serious challenges. Their MBA degree is in criticisms. That is why I called them The African Parrot.

The African Grey Parrot is a parrot found in the primary and secondary rainforest of West and Central Africa. Experts regard it as one of the most intelligent birds in the world. They feed primarily on palm nuts, seeds, fruits, and leafy matter, but have also been observed eating snails. Their overall gentle nature and their inclination and ability to mimic speech have made them popular pets, which have led many to be captured from the wild and sold into the pet trade.


The holy book said too much of talk leads to penury.