Nigeria stands 33.3%, unemployment rate highest in Africa, says OPSN

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Unemployment rate in Nigeria stands at 33.3 per cent, making it the highest in Africa .Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) 

OPSN comprises the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industries (NASSI), Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) and the  Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA),

It said having experienced two recessions in the last five years, the economy was grappling with the worst growth in the country’s history, with inflation rate of 18.12 per cent (as at last April).

At a briefing in Lagos, OPSN President, Mr. Taiwo Adeniyi,  said the nation had the world’s highest number of extremely poor citizens, and was on track to set yet another record: the highest unemployment rate.

Adeniyi, also NECA’ Bloomberg, a third of the labour force is unemployed or works just a few hours per week, second only to Namibia. It is important to note that Nigeria’s unemployment rate is s president,  said: “In the list of 82 countries monitored by the highest among Africa’s top 10 largest economies.

“We cannot deny that the increase in unemployment in 2020 represented a slowdown in economic activity, owing largely to global pandemic and the resultant drop in demand for oil that led to drop in oil prices.

“Over the last five years, unemployment has more than quadrupled, and the World Bank warned even before the coronavirus pandemic that Nigeria could house a quarter of the poorest people in the world within a decade.

“Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution to salvaging an economy facing multi-faceted challenges like ours, the business community and key stakeholders in the Nigeria Project believe that the economy can still undergo an economic renaissance that will place it among the world’s top economies to achieve its desired goals, which will be meaningfully reflected in the well-being of its people.

“We suggest a mix of fiscal, monetary and trade policies with political will in delivering the necessary impetus.”

Adeniyi said insecurity, kidnapping and other social vices could, to some extent, be attributed to the high unemployment rate.

“We believe that this situation should spur government at all levels to be more proactive, transparent, and focused on meeting the expectations of the citizens.

“More efforts must be channelled to fast-tracking economic revival, starting with support for the real sector. While the government had put in place several initiatives to ameliorate the challenges, the fundamental issues arising from COVID-19 and its negative effects on businesses had not been addressed sufficiently.

“We urge the government to refocus its efforts on supporting organised businesses to increase production capacity, which would invariably enable them to create more jobs. Verifiable support should be given to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to enable growth from the bottom up and a critical impact-audit of current interventions made to determine their effectiveness and relevance in the context of current realities,” he said.

On the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) Agreement, Adeniyi said OPSN was concerned more about how the  economy, especially businesses, would maximise the benefits of a continental market of about 1.2 billion people and aggregate Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of up to $3.4 trillion, with a potential to bring stimulus to African economies by improving the low level of intra-continental trade and attracting long-term stable investments from the world over.

He said: “While there is optimism surrounding the promise of AfCFTA to aid development, there must also be recognition that, like all Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), the AfCFTA will, inevitably, create winners and losers. Whether for their inefficiencies or the sub-optimal business environments they may find themselves in, some businesses or even entire sectors in national economies may not be able to compete in AfCFTA.‘’

Adeniyi said addressing the availability of foreign exchange for raw materials and machinery import had been identified as one of the critical means of ameliorating the challenges facing manufacturing and other real sectors.

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“It is, therefore, important that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) timely consolidates the unification of the exchange rates and shun the practice of multiple currency practices, which have not demonstrated the true reflection of the Naira in the market.

“To jump-start local production in the economy and improve the growth of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the level above the population growth rate, which is about three per cent, right pricing and availability of Foreign exchange to the productive sector of the economy, among other factors, would be required to ensure speedy growth and development of the economy.

“We believe that the CBN’s action in defending the naira has a limit; therefore, we advocate a more deliberate measure and drive in increasing local production for export potential,” he added.

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