Nigerian government has appealed for international aid and stimulus package for the African region to enhance technology infrastructure and human capital development, needed to achieve a better normal human centred future of work within the COVID-19 pandemic period and afterwards.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige made this appeal when he spoke on behalf of the African region at the Constituent’s Day of the Global Summit on COVID-19 and the World of Work, organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), yesterday.
Delivering the Nigeria/Africa statement at the summit attended virtually, Ngige said the pandemic has been described as one of the most dangerous challenges of our world by the United Nations scribe because of the severe health and associated socio-economic consequences over the first half of year 2020.
The labour minister regretted that families, local communities, states and regions have come under unprecedented challenges that reversed our common economic growth and progress like never before.
According to Ngige, almost all institutions have been subjected to intense pressures, exposing our common vulnerability and need for one another.
“Africa’s swift response to the pandemic holds lessons for other regions as reported cases are lower than was feared, even as many countries complained of lower testing challenges.
“Our shared challenge now is how to blend proportionally these responses to achieve a better human-centred future of work in line with our Centenary Declaration last year and overcome the long term effects on governments accross regions,” he said.
In a statement by his media aide, Emmanuel Nzomiwu, the minister acknowledged immense potentials of the Af- rican region, which accounts for about 17 percent of the world’s population and 60 percent of uncultivated arable land, but with only three percent of the global Gross Do- mestic Product (GDP).
He posited that the statistics highlights the tremendous opportunities as well as the great risks of the region if not properly harnessed.
Ngige stated that Africa as the youngest and fastest urbanising continent hosting over 24 million people, more than China and India combined, aims at generating full productive, inclusive and decent work opportunities with emphasis on young people.
“The future of work is here. It is for us to determine how to make it better. Teleworking is now a new normal to drive the various economies globally, which makes internet services imperative in Africa, opening up and strengthening economic sectors for skill acquisition and technological innovation.
“We are therefore determined to continously improve, reinforce and strength technological infrastructure, enhance policy coordination, improve ease of doing business, among others, to take the full advantage of teleworking and nurture human capital development,” Ngige said.
He recalled that at the 14 African regional meeting in Abidjan last year, African countries articulated shared as- pirations.
He said their priority “is to draw commitment to mak- ing decent work a reality for African youths skill develop- ment, create technological pathways in nationally endowed economic sectors, such as tourism and Agriculture as part of immediate post COVID-19 recovery plan.”
He assured that African countries would continue to strengthen the capacity of all people to build-back-better on post C0VID-19 by increasing investment in human capital, tackling gender inequality and progressively extending sustainable social protection while supporting private sector as primary source of economic growth and job creation.
He explained that the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement last year was part of regional ambition to link trade routes and facilitate integration of opportunities to eliminate tarriffs on inter African trade, induce employment, increase infrastructure development and create and create a more competitive yet sustainable environment for cross border trade.