By Chinenye Anuforo and Benjamin Babine, Abuja
Young people now account for a staggering 42.5 per cent of Nigeria’s unemployment rate. as of the fourth quarter of 2020.
While the total unemployment rate surged to an unprecedented 33.3 per cent from 27.1 per cent in the second quarter, the highest rate of unemployment was recorded among those between the ages of 15 and 24 years, at 53.4 per cent, followed by those aged 25 to 34, at 37.0 per cent. A combination of unemployment and underemployment rates shows that those aged 15 to 24 reported a combined rate of 73.2 per cent, showing a serious challenge for the age group in secure full-time employment.
The report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is the closest indication that the unemployment problem in Africa’s largest economy has reached a crisis stage and would require every help it needs to address the problem.
The country’s inflation rate also jumped to a four-year high in February as food prices rose more than 20 per cent, worsening the situation of teeming youths who are unemployed. The situation means many young people are unable to contribute to the growth of the country’s economy, raising the risks of brain drain or talent flight.
A report by the International Organisation of Migration notes that young Nigerians make up the largest population of the growing flow of migrants from Africa to developed countries. As of 2016, over 20,000 young people involved in the Mediterranean Sea crossing were reported to be from Nigeria. From 2017 until March 2021, hundreds of Nigerian migrants have been deported from various destinations, including Italy, Libya and South Africa.
But while most young Nigerians may have lost faith in the ability of the economy to rescue them from widening poverty, a growing number are turning to blockchain and the evolving cryptocurrency ecosystem to build wealth.
Experts say the growth of the crypto market in the last four years has benefited mostly young people, particularly millennials.
Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996 (about the age of people that account for 37.0 per cent of Nigeria’s unemployed figures), now find cryptocurrency three times more popular as a long-term investment vehicle, compared to any other generation.
A survey conducted in the United Kingdom of affluent millennials discovered that 20 per cent have invested in cryptocurrencies. The survey revealed that, among the people born between 1981 and 1996, 20 per cent invested in the crypto space, provided they had investable assets of £25,000 or more. This is significantly greater than the national average of 3%. Moreover, it is higher than 29 per cent for millennials with over £75,000 in investable assets
The story is similar in Nigeria, a market that is currently the largest in peer-to-peer trading in Africa. Out of 74 countries in the Statista Global Consumer Survey, Nigerians were the most likely to say they used or owned cryptocurrency.