Huge land, large population, natural resources not necessarily conducive for fast growth

I refer to the 4 Jun 2014 Straits Times report “From 50 sq km slum to green city in strife-torn Angola”.

Surbana Managing Director Mr Louis Tay shared at the World Cities Summit about how African leaders often asked him if their countries can develop in less than the 40 years it took Singapore. African leaders are misinformed. Singapore was already at the cusp of becoming First World when it turned independent in 1965 as our 1960 per capita GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity was already in the Upper Middle Income bracket by World Bank classification today. LKY himself told businessmen in Chicago in 1967 that we were already a metropolis (you can’t turn a fishing village into a metropolis in two years).

Mr Tay explained to his African friends that bigger, more populous Africa with oil, gas and diamonds should develop faster than small, low population, zero natural resource Singapore.

• Does Mr Tay not know that the percentage of small population economies (less than 10 million) achieving World Bank’s High Income status is almost double that of large population economies (more than 10 million)?

• Does Mr Tay not know that economies not dependent on natural resources (less than 5% of GDP) achieving World Bank’s High Income status is more than double that of economies dependent on natural resources (more than 5% of GDP)?

• Does Mr Tay not know that Singapore has a natural resource far more precious than oil, natural gas or diamond? Our priceless geographical location has been the foundation of our prosperity since our founding in 1819.

Mr Tay is thus wrong, large populous African nations will find their progress not as smooth or as quick as smaller more nimble populations having no natural resources.

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