Professor of Economics Alan Frishman presented a paper, “The Industrialization and De-industrialization of Kano, Nigeria,” at the weekly West African seminar at the University of London on Feb. 29. The seminar is part of a public series sponsored by the Department of Anthropology.
He has been studying the large-scale industries in Kano for more than 30 years and analyzing why firms become established, why some close and why some survive.
Frishman explained that Kano, the third-largest city in Nigeria, was founded more than 1,000 years ago and today is a metropolitan area of close to 4 million people. It has a long history of pre-colonial commerce and industrial production; after Nigeria's independence from England in 1960, it became a large industrial center, he said.
“By the early 1990s, more than 500 large-scale industrial firms had been established, and Kano was one of the most dynamic industrial areas in all of sub-Saharan Africa. In the 1990s, due to a predatory military government that survived on oil revenues, the private sector was ignored and the infrastructure of Kano and the rest of the country fell apart. As a result, by the early 21st century, most of the city's firms had closed and the survivors were working inefficiently and at low levels of production.”
Frishman first arrived in Nigeria in 1966 as a Peace Corps volunteer. He returned in the 1970s to do his Ph.D. research, and has made four additional trips to continue his research. He currently is in London with 18 HWS students on the semester abroad program.
A member of the faculty since 1976, Frishman holds a B.S. from City College of New York, a Certificate in African Studies as well as his M.A. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University. He has been a lecturer in math at Bayero University in Kano, Nigeria; and a lecturer in math at Kano State College of Advanced Studies. He has helped organize many events on the HWS campus that benefit Oxfam.
In the photo above, Frishman (second from right) and the HWS students pose just before they descended into the Big Pit, a former mine that's now part of the National Mining Museum of Wales; “it was a deep experience which everyone found fascinating,” he said.