The rising unemployment rate in Africa is now a source of concern and stakeholders consider it a real threat to Africa’s economic development.
Stakeholders at the sixth Africa Social Partners’ Summit, organised by the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and hosted by the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) last week in Lagos, lamented how Nigeria and others may be sitting on keg of gunpowder if they fail to deploy population positively.
President of the International Trade Union Congress (ITUC) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, said it was disturbing that though 63% of the African population is less than 25 years old, but presently not gainfully employed.
He said, “Very challenging is the revelation that out of the 73 million jobs created in the past few years on the African continent, only about 16 million jobs were grabbed by young people. When you add this to the fact that Africa has a youth population of more than 200 million people, it will be easier to appreciate the enormity of the demographic time bomb sitting on our laps.
“Ordinarily, our huge youth population should be an advantage to us, but if we fail to manage this strength, our asset could turn to a demographic disaster. This is why we believe that the timing of this summit is very apt as social partners must come together to find solutions to today’s crisis of unemployment especially among the youth population in order to secure a sustained and sustainable future.”
The president of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Mr. Taiwo Adeniyi, however, charged the Federal Government to provide more support to the organised private sector (OPS) to enable it deliver more on its responsibility of creating more jobs to the economy.
“NECA has contributed meaningfully to reduce unemployment with cooperation of Industrial Training Fund and at our recent job fair where we have over 2,600 young job seekers. We need more action from government to create enabling environment for business to thrive,” he said.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator, Chris Ngige, in his keynote address, said Nigeria was currently working with other African leaders to address the problem of unemployment in the continent through well targeted interventions.
He stated that the government’s target is to equip the unemployed youths with market-driven skills which facilitates access to self or paid employment.
“In that regard, we have designed the N-Power programme to drastically reduce youth unemployment. The focus is to provide our youth unemployed job seekers with the cotton-edge skills to venture into self or paid employment,” he said.
In her contribution, Executive Director of the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), Jacqueline Mugo opined that for business to grow and create the much-needed job opportunities, the operating environment needs to be conducive.
She added that social partners play a key role in pushing for policies that promote a healthy and stable business environment where both new and existing businesses can thrive.