Laila Ijeoma Obiagwu
As at December 2018, unemployment rate in Nigeria was said to be at 23.1 per cent. This was as announced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Qhat it literally meant was that a staggering 20.9million Nigerians – women and men, were unemployed.
The shocking revelations didn’t end there.
In the same report, NBS announced that Nigeria’s unemployment rate had increased from 18.8 per cent (17.6million) in 2017, to 23.1 per cent in 2018 (20.9million).
Out of the 20.9million people classified as unemployed, it emerged that 11.1 million did some form of work but for few hours a week (less than 20 hours), while 9.7 million did absolutely nothing.
Also, out of the 9.7million that were unemployed and did absolutely nothing at all, 35 per cent or 3.4 million of them have been unemployed and done nothing at all for less than a year.
In addition, the report showed that 17.2 per cent or 1.6 million out of the 9.7million had been unemployed and did nothing for a year; while 15.7 per cent or 1.5 million out of the 9.7million had been unemployed and done nothing for two years. This sad tale doesn’t end here.
When compared to other African countries, according to the NBS 2018 report, Nigeria’s unemployment rate for the 15 to 35 age bracket stood at an alarming higher rate.
While youth unemployment in Liberia stood at 4.7 per cent, Kenya – 18.7 per cent, Egypt – 26.3 per cent, South Africa – 27.7 per cent, Lesotho – 31.8 per cent, Libya – 43.8 per cent and Ghana – 48 per cent, Nigeria had a shocking 52.65 per cent.
In the face of all these, Nigeria’s federal government established Npower, all in a bid “to foster productivity through skills development and valuable knowledge sharing and acquisition for economic growth and social development.”
It has had some impact.
And then came Digital skills.
There are 2,153 billionaires in the world (according to Forbes’ 2019 33rd annual ranking of the world’s billionaires). Of this total, 1,450 members are self-made.
Of these self-made billionaires, the likes of Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Larry Page of Google, Evan Spiegel of Snapchat, Brian Chesky of Airbnb, made their fortune from the digital economy which is worth $11.5 trillion globally, equivalent to 15.5 percent of global GDP and has grown two and a half times faster than global GDP over the past 15 years.
And this economy is still growing at an alarming rate.
Digital technologies have risen to prominence as a critical determinant of economic growth, national security, and international competitiveness.
And we pleased that same digital technology has disrupted Nigeria’s economy and is fostering the creation of countless new markets, products, platforms, and services in the last 10 years.
Before now, IT related projects in Nigeria were often contracted out to foreign, established tech companies who deploy staff officers to execute and manage.
Thankfully, a flame of revolution with a bang and magnitude enough to propel a space rocket gutted the tech space in Nigeria.
And in a space of 10 years, among many innovations, there has been a rise of online platforms which have enabled disadvantaged Nigerians across skills, gender and income levels to overcome physical and socio-economic barriers to earn an income through the internet.
Nigerians with talents in various tech digital skills such as mobile development, data visualisation, SEO, SEM, UX/UI, etc got the trainings they required and today, Nigeria can proudly boast of having first-class Software Developers, Computer Systems Analysts, IT Managers, Information Security Analysts, Database Administrators, Web Developers, Computer Network Architects.
Nigerian developers are designing products to solve local challenges. Nigeria plays host to some of the best tech hubs on the continent, a number that grew from 23 in 2016 to 55 in 2018.
Based on findings such as Disrupt Africa’s African Tech Startups Funding Report 2018, Nigeria finally overtook South Africa as the market of choice for startup funding, with over 50 startups raising a total of $94,912,000 in investment.
According to research by the Tony Elumelu Foundation, innovation is on the rise on the African continent, particularly in Nigeria. What it literally means – gradually but surely, unemployment in Nigeria is being affected.
A research by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) points out that there will be tens of millions of jobs available for people with advanced digital skills in the coming years.
Nigeria has not been left out and will never be left out if we continue to equip our young women and men with job-ready, transferable digital skills.
This will enhance their employment opportunities and trigger a virtuous circle of improved labour market outcomes, increased productivity, innovation and economic growth for our economy.