I am not an economist. However, it does not take a genius to know that an economy grows only when as many people as possible

An economy grows when everyone earns an income

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philosopherI am not an economist. However, it does not take a genius to know that an economy grows only when as many people as possible earn an income.

You know the drill – high unemployment rates; poor economic performance.

However, there is a trend that I have observed in tech circles. As concise as possible, I describe it as supposedly employed individuals who do not earn an income (or a sustainable income).

StartUps without a business plan, and who go for years without an income. Developers who are not selling any software or apps. Broke bloggers. I can go on and on, but you get the picture already.

In tech circles, its especially pathetic. Geeks want to attend seminars and conferences free of charge. So event organisers, trainers, instructors, and speakers go without an income.

Developers churn out apps, but are unable to sell them. Many times, users are unwilling to pay for apps/software. Or payment platforms are not in place.

Tech event organisers want speakers to grace their events, speak and be thanked with a handshake. I remember that a few months back, a company mailed me an invitation to speak at their event. I mailed back my booking brochure (with my rates). They never got back to me. Good riddance. That’s how I play now. If you are not paying, don’t call me.

Multinationals come into the country, and rather than contract local consultants to supply information, they pick their brains over lunch. The local big boys play the same game too.

At the end of the day, not many people are earning an income in the tech-startup scene. We have a new category of “employed” men and women who are not earning an income. Friends, our official unemployment statistics must be way off the mark!

How is the economy supposed to grow? This love of freebies is killing us! When we all get tired of the charade, we will begin to make real progress. When we start sending the cash round, regardless of how small to start with, then the real revolution can begin.

Stay tuned. More to come.


  1. Good One, Yomi. Individuals and corporate entities ought to learn to pay for services rendered. That is the only way our Tech world and indeed all our industries and professional services can grow.

    We also have these in the Medical field, when individuals would see us in the Market for instance and then try get a prescription for an errant Headache or pick your brain for a Medical Opinion.

    Perhaps it’s about time this things stop!

  2. OVIE – @Afewgoodmen,

    It’s been about time. In FREE town there’s no free launch. Employees look for interns, they don’t want to pay, job seekers look for easy work ‘cos they don’t want to pay–with their talent and hard work, everyone want free. This is really killing us.

    I agree with you. When I talk to people about how we can grow their business on Mobility, they give me serious BS. It’s better to serve a few people who contribute to your–business–growth, than to feel like a king around so many FREEby seekers. I know Mobility Fans aren’t like that.

  3. Yomi, I agree totally with your viewpoint here.

    The truth of the matter is that we are running a fake economy. Compared to what we consume, we produce quite little – in almost all facets of our National Life. Apart from Oil (for which we did not work), what do we produce as a country?

    Everybody wants to be an importer. Everybody is selling goods manufactured elsewhere. Bankers get paid Jumbo amounts, and I ask myself what is the direct impact of their activities on our lives? Pretty much everyone would like to land a contract as a Consultant in Abuja, and get paid for ‘Consulting’. The people that earn the megabucks, do quite little, except for a few exceptions.

    The reason China is the new Power_KidOnTheBlock is because they are busy producing! Every other household in China is producing one thing or the other. Why would they not emerge as the new Economic Olympus?

    I have also felt that the Oil that God has blessed us with – is actually a curse. It is akin to the child of an affluent parent. He does not value money, does not believe in deploying financial resources prudently. He has grown up never having experienced lack, materially. His/her mindset (unless he was raised by exceptional Rich Parents) is warped by years of life of luxury – without its having been earned.

    The culture of not wanting (able?) to pay for most things – could be traceable to pervasive poverty. Everybody is trying to earn a quick buck – and save an eve quicker cent! Have you noticed that the Mechanics of the very rich are usually fairly above water – financially – generally? Most people, in sane societies, would pay for sterling services – if they can afford it. But even the Kids have learnt that being straight in this cclime os one arduous and torturous journey, Full of Pains $ Tears!

    Going back to the issue of the “free browsing: craze” there was a time when I was passionate about “stealing from the network system”. God knows they have stolen enough from me in the past. However, with the strides a company like GLO is making, I am now just as fervent about paying for the data I consume. They have awakened in me, a Nationalist Zeal to see them succeed. But a company like MTN? Yes, I would cheat a company like that if I get the chance. Any day. Any time!

    To conclude this long epistle, we need some cataclysmic change for the citizens to change their view about productivity, and believe (again) that platitude – “there is dignity in labour”. Why Labour is you are not assured of getting rewarded for your effort.

    As it stands, unless our oil dries up (or oil becomes sufficiently irrelevant in the world arena – it is already happening), or we have human (war) or natural (earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes, e,t,c) disasters, we are not likely to change our ways.

    Like that “spoilt kid” of the well_heeled Parents, preaching all day to him to apply better prudence in his day2day financial spending – will amount to a “a piss in a thunderstorm”.

    I hope and pray things will change for the better gradually. But I am still assiduously searching for that proverbial flickering “light at the end of this labyrinthine tunnel!

  4. This article is so on point, most Nigerians are unwilling to pay for services rendered. Always looking to have their cake and eat it.

  5. The whole issue boils down to bad governance. In the free browsing craze, people who are gainfully employed wouldn’t bother with looking for ways of circumventing the operators billing systems even as I admit that expensive data pricing contributed to its adoption rate.

    Some services would be considered as unnecessary luxury for people who are not employed. For instance, whereas the ATM services was welcomed by the employed masses, the unemployed or people with less money would only wait until they were forced with stringent policies before they could adopt it for a mere monthly charge of N100.

    One major step towards solving the unemployment problem in this country is restoring eletricity to normalcy. By normalcy, I mean the way it is in the developed western world because I am not sure we have had any normalcy in electric power supply in this country. Only then would the people be empowered truely and factories would begin to spring up. Many companies had wound up operation because of the cost of electricity

  6. Furthermore , when people talk about irregularity electricity being the cause of companies relocating and closing down in droves, I say ‘No!”. That is just a manifestation of a much bigger reason. And that reason is – CORRUPTION. It exists at corporate and national levels. It is more prevalent here because of poverty. Corruption engenders poverty – which, in turn, causes more corruption. A vicious cycle!

    The Reason you do not have regular electricity in the country is directly attributable to avarice and CORRUPTION. And this reason is responsible for practically all the failings in our National and individual lives. Why do Government Establishments NEVER succeed? We all know the answer. Government moni no be my Papa moni!

    And we also tend to make the mistake that having regular electricity would miracuolusly translate to a buoyant economy. I doubt it. We can have 24-hour electricity. If the level of pervasive corruption – in every sphere of life (places of worship inclusive!) remains as it is, we will not make much progress.

    Yes; a more stable public power supply would reduce Operating Cost drastically. But, that is just one cost. And there are many other costs on running businesses. Many of these costs are unsustainably high due to extreme corruption (in fulfilling regulatory obligations, leakages through employee attitude, e.t.c.). this makes us non-competitive in the International Market. If the Petroleum Industry is a cesspool of rabid looting and unwholesome practices, why would Petrol not eventually reach N200/liter, and air travel being the exclusive preserve of the rich? Why would the guy who runs a trailer from Igbese to Jigawa not charge higher?

    Our best bet is a re-orientation in our attitude. We need to embrace HONESTY, fairness, decorum and natiopnalism in ALL dealings. And this starts and ends with you and I.

    Any other strategy would be like AfewGoodMan / DeolaDoctor treating a headache with Panadol Extra – when the patience actually has Samonella Typhi! Bacteria floating in his bloodstream!

  7. @Eye.Bee.Kay

    Sure you have a point here but I’m talking of a sector of the economy that if taken care of, would bring tremendious improvement even in the midst of corruption in the economy just like in the communication sector. Improvement in the communication sector brought a horde of improvements in the existing industry and even the emergence of new ones that would not have existed without these improvements.

    Majority of the industries closing up because of corruption, apart from the financial institu tions are mainly government owned. Other industries are folding mainly because of the very high cost of generating their own electricity. But for the fact that telecom industry (GSM) is very lucrative, they would have been affected by the poor state of power supply in the country.

    There are a number of individuals that would be self-employed in the country today if electric power supply is a trivial issue. Even the GSM operators have complained seriously in the past for the cause they are incurring in erecting and running individual mast when NCC gave them ultimatum concerning the state of coverage and quality of service.

    Even with our corruption level, steady electricity supply either by way of privatization or otherwise is going to bring about a drastic shift in unemployment level for the better in this country.

  8. Yet another theme change on this blog!. Anyway, this article really hits the nail on the head. We have to change our thinking and realize nothing good comes free.
    @Yomi nice contemplative pose there 🙂

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