Urban Competitiveness: Knowledge Growth
Competitiveness is the ability of institutions, organisations or countries to ensure stable medium-term economic growth in urban, surrounding regions and rural areas. When cities compete, ideas and creativity are intensified, which enhance innovation. Increasing urbanisation in Africa has made cities to become important and thus requires competitiveness for growth. Transfer of knowledge and ideas is good but becomes dangerous when the knowledge transferred does not necessarily address the need of the people the knowledge is shared with. It is necessary to understand what works best in the different geographical environment that ensures healthy competition. It is important to understand the complexity of cities and the process that shapes them to determine their position at various local, regional and global networks.
Competitiveness is determined by many factors. These include:
- Health and primary education
- Goods market efficiency
- Financial market sophistication
- Labour market efficiency
- Technological readiness
- Market size
- Business sophistication
- Institutions and
- Higher education and Training
These 12 factors are further grouped into 3 categories
a) Innovations and sophistication factors.
b) Efficiency enhancers.
c) Basic requirements.
These set the underlying foundations that cities across the globe can adapt to suit the situations in each local environment.
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Competitiveness in Nigeria
Cities across the world compete to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). Competing countries and cities use their resources to attract and generate wealth among its citizens and residents. However, Nigerian cities do not generate much income on its own with the exemption of Lagos. The cities depend on the federal government for revenue allocation on a monthly basis. Only Lagos state generates its own revenue substantially from economic trade. Yet, Lagos do not compete with any other state, the rate of wealth creation is solely for political purpose.
According to an overall index, Switzerland has since 2008 maintain the lead as the topmost competitive country in the world while Nigeria ranks 125th out of 137 countries ranked. This shows that there is a need for organisations to integrate urban systems between local governments and across the states. Each state must possess the strong desire to be more successful than others of comparable nature, for its growth and development. See https://urbanplanes.com/african-urbanisation-matching-the-right-skills/. In the surrounding complaints of corruption, when cities compete, city managers and administrators can put resources to judicious use.
Countries of the developed countries have not developed because they are more sensitive than others but because the countries encourage creativity and healthy competition among the regions, develop long-term goals that are achievable and ensure judicious use of resources. For example, Rotterdam competes against Amsterdam and The Hague in the areas of education, liveability, and infrastructure. America and European cities compete against each other to achieve economic, physical, infrastructural and environmental growth.
Many African cities are becoming unsustainable and less livable because of economic policies that do not address the need of the increasing population. Increasing housing price/rent for low-income earners, poor infrastructure, insecurity, and poor access to jobs contributes to migration out of the country. However, many low-income earners have been resilient fighting poverty daily on the streets in order to survive. They have been tagged as the “hopelessness of the hopefuls” in Africa. They are showcased as the face of Africa and brandished as informality yet this sector contributes largely to the GDP of the countries they represent. Making cities compete together can give hope to the referred hopeless, set rules and organised development in the way that addresses the problems and also attracts competition among foreign investors.
Need for Competitiveness
- It encourages administrators to be accountable for resources allocation.
- Competitiveness encourages creativity. It improves ideas and allows many people to participant in urban development.
- It helps to determine the success and wealth of a nation through the human and capacity development projects.
- competitiveness may help to curb corruption in governance since the indexes are measurable based on selected indicators of performance.
- It promotes healthy and liveable cities.
- It encourages sub-national governments/states and local government administrators to generate revenue rather than depending on the national government.
In order to harness urban innovation across states in Nigeria, states and local governments must compete to ensure sustainable growth.
Why Nigeria must Compete
Nigeria among the African continent must compete for Fastrack development and growth of infrastructural facilities and capacity development. Increase in the number of educated youths without access to jobs signifies a gap in policy and decision-making processes. Increasing unemployment rate in Nigeria annually, reports show that an estimated eight million lost their jobs within one year (2016-2017) putting the statistics at 19% unemployment rate http://www.nigerianstat.gov.ng/. Economic competition of Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar are uninformed and unarticulated, as competition is solely for political purpose. Healthy competition is reflected in the life of the people, the welfare of citizens and innovative ability of individuals. The increasing youth population and the vast land resources are adequate research and test grounds for potential innovators.
When Cities and Local governments compete, it facilitates internally generated revenues among governments. Nigeria competes with South Africa in the area of the economy in terms of GDP, it, however, has to compete internally to improve other surrounding cities and improve its Gross and Net GDP. See also http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/.
Studies and observations show that outside the borders of Nigeria, Many foreigners are only aware of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. This shows the level of awareness and contributions the states have made. Therefore, states need to compete to attract investors inwards. It is on this premise that African cities can stop asking for aids and become productive. The world today is knowledge-based and seek for knowledgeable individuals that can turn potentials into useful resources.