The U.S is often described as the world’s unique superpower. Emphasis should be on the world unique in this regard. But what makes America a superpower? The average man neither knows or cares about the GDP of the United States or the number of nuclear warheads deployed.
What the average person hears the word America, what comes to mind is not the GDP of the United States or the number of deployed warhead. Rather its America’s culture. American culture paved the way for a unique kind of superpower.
China’s economic near parity in GDP with the U.S often sparks talks of China being the next superpower. This assertion is flawed. It may come as a shock when you realise that the United States has had the worlds largest economy since 1890, but that didn’t make America a superpower.
Starting from the 1930’s the United States built up the greatest infrastructure the world has ever seen, and has by then been the world’s largest economy for a hundred years, but still America was not seen or regarded as a superpower.
The American Dream
America was only acknowledged as a superpower post WWII, and not necessarily because it had the largest economy, its had that for a hundred years as at then. Neither was it because of her military prowess. After WWII the Soviet Union and the United States were pretty much on parity, with the former dominant on land and the latter dominant on air and sea.
It was American popular culture made the U.S the world’s unique superpower. A unique kind. The United States is so unique in that it is a huge player in basically every category a country can be. This has never really happened before in history except maybe some of the empires of antiquity like Rome or China.
Paradoxically, American culture has been so imitated that most people believe the two words “America and Culture”, do not really belong together, but their lifestyle is a part of American culture itself – a kind of “in your face” pride at being down-to-earth and everyday.
The “American Dream” was the USA’s greatest cultural export to the world – an open-ended inspiration into which millions poured their own dreams and hopes for a better life. It was this ideal that had a terrific impact on the world when American popular culture went global.
Turn on the TV, America’s cultural influence through movies, music, sports, has been particularly strong.
Why does America have such reach in these media?
One answer is population. The United States has a domestic market of over 300 million people in addition to a potential global market of more than two billion English speakers.
It is no exaggeration to say that American popular music and movies conquered the world in the 20thcentury. No other country has this advantage in both numbers and language. It’s never happened before both on a regional and global level. Until recently.
The world is witnessing the birth of America’s kind of superpower. This time in Africa. That candidate is Nigeria.
Nigeria is the only country in Africa that is proving to be dominant in virtually every category that a country can be.
Nigeria has the biggest economy by a mile. With a GDP of $1.1 trillion ($550 billion GNP) when measured in PPP (purchasing Power Parity). Nigeria is by far Africa’s economic powerhouse.
It is Africa’s biggest oil producer and has an oil reserve of 40 billion barrels which is worth a staggering $6 trillion in today’s market.
Highly advanced technological base.
In 2002 Nigeria had 100,000 lines for a population 150 million. Today Nigeria has 1400 million active lines, a highly developed telecommunications industry and has the world’s longest fibre-optic cable. The Glo Marine Cable stretches from the West African coast all the way to Portugal.
In the span of just 7 years Nigeria has gone from nothing to build the most extensive and ambitious Space program in Africa. Nigeria currently has 5 satellites launched p, and four still in orbit.
Nigeria is second only to South Africa when it comes to overall infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the most impressive infrastructural masterpieces can be found in Nigeria. It’s the only country in Africa to build a city from scratch in the middle of no where, all within 20 years.
Abuja is Nigeria’s Washington DC. The City of Abuja is considered Africa’s best “purpose built” City.
Lagos is the New York of Africa. It’s the capital of Africa’s film, music, arts and fashion industry. Lagos has the most extensive road network, with one of the biggest ports in Africa. Lagos has the longest over water bridge in Africa – the 3rd Mainland Bridge.
A bridge that spans 12 kilometres over water. The Eko Atlantic project is considered Africa’s biggest engineering project, bigger in scale than the Suez Canal. Dubbed the “Dubai of Africa” if will serve as Nigeria’s financial hub with world-class infrastructure.
Nigeria is one of Africa’s biggest defense spenders. According to the latest GFP (Global fire power) ranking, the Nigerian military is ranked 4th in Africa. After years of neglect and mismanagement, that led to a steep decline in military capability,the Nigerian military is modernising at a rapid pace and technology is playing a big role in this endeavour. The Air Force already builds its own UAV’s, the Navy, its own littoral patrol vessels, the army, its own armoured Mine Protected Vessels.
If this trajectory is maintained the Nigerian military is poised to reclaim its lost glory as black Africa’s greatest military power.
Nigeria is in the league of few nations that actively and profitably export its culture. Nollywood ranks alongside Bollywood, Holywood, British Film and Television as regularly exported cultural products. The Nigerian music industry has literally conquered Africa and is now making inroads in the United States.
Nollywood rakes in $3 billion a year and is considered the second biggest movie industry in the world in volume. Whatever deficiencies in quality Nigerian movies might have, it more than makes up for in its music industry.
Why is Nigeria so dominant in entertainment?
One answer is population. Nigeria has a domestic market of over 200 million people. With such a huge consumer market Nigerian acts are incentivized to keeps it local.
No other African country has this dominance in demography, commerce, culture, military power, diplomacy, sports, wealth. It’s never happened. Perhaps it’s no surprise the richest black man and woman are Nigerians.
These are the hallmarks of a United States style superpower.