In the face of Nigeria’s economic woes, history beckons us to look to the advanced nations whose economies are enviable and study how they did it. Over the years we have always admired the Asian Tigers of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. However, it has not been brought to the mainstream that a Nigerian helped built these economies. His name is Kalu Idika Kalu. In this article, we shall look at the man, Kalu Idika Kalu, and his contribution to the development of the East Asian economy.
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Childhood And EducationKalu Idika Kalu was born on October 14, 1939, in Ebem Ohafia, in the Ohafia local government Area of Abia State, South Eastern Nigeria. He is of the Igbo people, one of the largest tribes in Nigeria. Like every other child who grew up in colonial Nigeria, Kalu’s parents loved education and did their best to give their child the best of education. Hence, between 1954 and 1960, Kalu attended the prestigious Kings College, Lagos. From there he went on to receive his Bachelor of Science and Masters of Arts in Economics in 1964 and 1965 respectively at the University of Wisconsin. He also received his Doctorate Degree in Economics from the same university in the year 1972. He was a Stimson Fellow of Yale University. To this end, he graduated with first-class in Economics with various degrees. He participated in research work on developing countries and lectured at the university level.
Kalu At The World Bank And East AsiaBetween the 1960s and 1970s, nations in East Asia were impoverished regions and were in dire need of economic development. In their bid to pursue far-reaching economic policies that would pull them out of poverty, these nations reached out to World Bank. In response, the Institution sent its best minds to develop economic strategies that would help these nations navigate the murky waters of poverty.
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Among these best minds was Kalu Idika Kalu who worked with the World Bank in the East Asia Pacific Programmes Department. According to reports, Kalu contributed to the reengineering of the economies of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong (Asian Tigers). Scholars of history have opined that Kalu was one of the best minds that built the Asian Tigers’ economies when he acted in the capacity of the Country Economist, World Bank Projects in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong between 1972 and 1980. Dr. Kalu conducted detailed studies on the industrial structure and tariff protection of Korean export industries. His work was instrumental in shaping the policies of Korea, which helped its economy move from labor-intensive manufacturing to the thriving capital goods and technology-intensive economy that exists today.
Other AchievementsKalu served in various capacities globally, regionally, and locally. He was Commissioner for Finance & Planning in Imo State, Minister of Finance under two governments – the Ibrahim Babaginda and Abacha – and Minister for National Planning and Minister of Transport. Also, he was chairman, of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, chairman, of the development committee of the World Bank, and Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary to the European Union in 2000.
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Dr. Kalu was instrumental in the formulation of Nigeria’s economic reform policies and helped to lay the foundation for the country’s policies of economic liberalization, globalization, and privatization. Apart from public service in governance, Kalu worked in the private sector as Head of Economics, Skoup and Company Limited, Lagos and Enugu, between 1980 and 1984. Also, he was a member of the Board of Trustees, Private Public Partnership (the Body that raised N100 million through a nationwide live Telethon on March 3, 2002, in aid of January 27, 2002, Victims of Bomb Blast in Lagos). He was also the Chairman and Managing Director of Dakal Services Limited; Vice Chairman, Emis Limited, since 1996; Chairman of BGL Limited in 1996. He served as a Chief Consultant of Nigerian Fertilizer between 1970 and 1972. Presently, Kalu, aged 83, grants interviews to leading business newspapers on economic and social issues. Featured Image Source: Punch Newspapers
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