global political and business leaders gathering for the 44th annual World Economic Forum in Davos, discussions will be centred on the impact of slower economic growth across different regions, unemployment and income inequality, challenges Nigeria is also grappling with on the home front.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan jetted off to Switzerland for the 5-day summit, along with major economic stakeholders including co-chair Aliko Dangote, President of Africa’s biggest conglomerate Dangote Group and Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, seeking to gain insight on tackling unemployment, social inclusion and infrastructure deficit, all key to sustaining economic growth in the West African nation.
Despite job-focus initiatives such as the SURE-P under the country’s transformation agenda, job creation has been slowed, with a greater portion of the working population unable to find a decent job. The World Bank placed Nigeria’s unemployment rate at 22%, with youth unemployment pegged at 38%.
In contrast, the West African giant has experienced economic gains in recent years, with growth for the last 3 years has hovered between 6-7%. These contrasting fortunes means the economic gains recorded have not translated to into job creation.
“We are growing, but not creating enough jobs. That is a very big challenge,” said the country’s finance minister, Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala.
Nigeria created 1.6 million new jobs in 2013, but despite the growth in creation it is unable to meet the growing demand,with 4 million citizens entering the labour market yearly.
Aside Unemployment, an increasing level of inequality is a major agenda at the WEF and one that needs critical addressing in Nigeria.
It was reported in 2011 that 80% of the world’s wealth is owned by 20% of its population, and the disparity is on the increase. Consumption expenditure report from Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that out of the 160 million citizens, 96 million people have only 20% purchasing power.
BBC also reported also reported that poverty in Nigeria was on the increase as 100 million people were currently living below the poverty line of $1 a day, despite economic growth.
Nigeria’s mainstay is oil, with crude revenues amounting to more than 80% of the country’s total revenue inflow. However given only a few control these assets, it is understandable that the disparity in income is wide.
The economic forum should therefore offer tips on how to tackle unemployment and reduce disparities in equality as West African nations aims to become Africa’s leading economy.