(1) I have been studying the Finnish railway industry of late and am very impressed with the way they have used it as a basis for industrialisation. If only Nigeria showed 10% of their productivity, we would have a high-speed pan-African railway network

(2) Bear in mind Finland is a small Scandinavian country of just 5.5m people located in one of the harshest terrains on earth. The north of the country is actually located within the Artic Circle but that has not prevented them for connecting every one of their cities and towns by rail

(3) Up until the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Finland was just another Russian province ruled by the Czar. It was rural, backward and agrarian, with about 90% of its wealth coming from forestry products like timber, paper and pulp. However, they have managed to turn things around

(4) Today, the largest sector of Finland’s economy is services at 72.7% followed by manufacturing and refining at 31.4% with primary production accounting for just 2.9% of wealth generated. With respect to foreign trade, the key economic sector is manufacturing. Finland’s largest industries are electronics (21.6%), machinery, vehicles and other engineered metal products (21.1 %), forest industry (13.1%) and chemicals (10.9%)

(5) Finland not only manufactures double decker railway carriages so it can limit the length of the trains on the tracks, it also manufactures track clearing machines that run everyday to clear away snow. They also manufacture special freight carriages to ship their timber to port

(6) Bear in mind Finland only has a GDP of $270bn, has no fossil fuels like Norway and its location has made large scale agriculture impossible. To address these problems, they have gone for a high-tech manufacturing economy that is export-based, enabling them to use the revenue to import their needs like petroleum and food

(7) Now, Nigeria was created in 1914 and Finland did not become free until 1917. Just as Nigeria reeled under the yoke of British colonialism, so too did Czarist Russia oppress Finland for centuries. As recently as the 1950s, forestry products accounted for some 90% of Finland’s economy but they have managed to move on. I find it totally unacceptable that 60 years after independence, Nigeria is still importing railway carriages while a comparable country like Finland is a mass manufacturer

(8) Finland’s railway network consists of a total of 5,919 km of track compared with Nigeria’s abysmal 3,505 km. This is despite the fact that Finland’s total landmass is only 304,000 square kilometres compared with Nigeria’s 923,769 square kilometres. They also have five inch standard guage tracks compared with the single gauge 3.6 inch tracks the British left us

(9) We have decided to overhaul the Jurassic railway network the British left us but alas, why do we not have a wholistic plan to turn the whole sector into a money-spinning industry. What I have in mind is an Ecowas-wide railway network with Nigeria manufacturing tracks, locomotives, carriages, signalling equipment, etc

(10) Unfortunately, we are content with just having a railway line, so nobody in Nigeria finds it insulting, humiliating, shameful and demeaning that we have to go and import our carriages from China. I sometimes wonder where is our pride as sovereign nation.


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