The month of April has been certainly eventful for Nigeria in Many ways, this edition of Knowledge Dispatches will cover some key insights so far.
I am Samuel Ajayi.
The role of a competent state in delivering growth cannot be overemphasized and taking a cue about this, our latest episode explores this subject in technical detail as we hosted the George Mason University professor, Mark Koyama on State Capacity, it was a high-level discussion that goes in-depth; we dropped a list of complementary articles that gives a thorough introduction on the subject and the different perspectives. You can listen to our conversation with Mark Koyama here.
The security situation in Nigeria has deteriorated drastically over the last couple of weeks and it has become quite concerning. The battle against the insurgents entered a new phase, as large swathes of land in Northern Nigeria have become essentially without government presence. Reports that Boko Haram is hoisting flags and capturing territories are becoming much more common, according to Seth Jones in his book 'Waging insurgent warfare', insurgencies are much more successful than we give them credit for, gaining success 35% of the time while governments are successful around 36% of the time. Those are slim odds, this might explain President Buhari's call for help for the relocation of the AFRICOM base to Africa, even though Nigeria has been vehemently opposed to it in the past. Cheta Nwaneze brilliantly does a deep dive into the implications of these actions in this thread and this article. In my opinion, the security problems of the country stem from a bad economy, and the economy of Nigeria at the moment is plenty bad.
If there is anything we learned in 2020, it's that COVID19 is a serious public health crisis and that was reinforced over the last few weeks as news trickled in about the situation in India and it's really bad, they recorded the daily highest number of cases two days in a row. In the wake of the issue, the US refused them access to needed raw materials for Vaccines before a reversal that came later due to public uproar. This is a stark reminder that COVID is still out there and we should take the necessary precautions and get vaccinated if we haven't, while also highlighting how bad it could have been on the African continent and Nigeria. There have been several theories regarding why the situation has not been dire, and this two-part article tackles the question from a new angle.
At one of our discussions at IU HQ, I argued that the progress that we will experience in the coming years will come from hardware engineering and Tobi was more skeptical and instead was more optimistic about the Life sciences, there is certainly a lot happening in the life sciences at the moment in many fields from aging to reproduction. Last year, Deepmind solved the protein folding problem, which has been a grand challenge for over 50 years with large implications for areas like drug research and diseases like cancer. These advances have not been limited to that alone as scientists from a Tel Aviv university reversed aging, a challenge for much of humanity’s existence. Startups such as these groups are now using some of these findings to create products that may one day change how long humans live. Nick Bostrom wrote a fable about a dragon tyrant which he explained to mean Aging, the world seems to be inching towards slaying that particular giant due to advances in life science research, that’s a comfortable thought among the whirlwind that has caught up with the world recently.
The last week of April is usually used to mark World Immunization Week, and this year came with some exciting news on the vaccine front. Vaccines have been having a time in the sun moment, vaccines for different diseases ranging from cancer to HIV are in development with exciting new results. However, the big one is the announcement of the results of a proposed malaria vaccine, which has shown remarkable results so far. Malaria kills over 400,000 people per year, and 97% of our population in Nigeria is at risk of the disease. The productivity gains will be enormous, this article takes a deep dive into the Malaria vaccine news, providing deeper context on the progress made so far. To wrap us this section on Vaccines, the New York Times wrote this article on how Pfizer makes its own Vaccines, and it is fascinating.
Some other interesting article we read
An interesting look at how media consumption has changed over the decade.
How the fall of the Roman Empire paved the road to modernity
The Rise of the Stationary Bandit
Till next time, Cheers