BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU & ALICE FESTUS
ABUJA – THE Minister and Deputy Chairman, National Planning Commission, NPC, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, Tuesday, said Nigeria, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Cote d’Ivoire were among countries in the world facing acute unemployment.
Usman stated this at the workshop organised by the World Bank Group on “Learning from the past experience for future opportunities in youth employment in West Africa” in Abuja.
Usman said in recent years, many West African countries had witnessed significant economic growth.
He said: “During the five-year period 2008-2012, the West African economies grew at an average annual rate of about five per cent. The economic growth also cuts across the region, albeit at different rates. The fastest growing economies in the region were Liberia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.
“The economic growth has failed, however, to translate to significant economic development, poverty reduction and job creation in most of these countries. Ten of the sixteen countries in the region are low income countries and remaining six lower middle income.
“In the countries where recent data are available, the poverty headcount has remained high, even by national standards. The challenge of unemployment is also common, although there are significant cross-country variations.
“Unemployment is most acute in Mauritania, Nigeria, Cape Verde and Cote d’Ivoire and least challenging in the Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Guinea and Sierra Leaone. Youth unemployment is generally more acute everywhere than adult unemployment; and youth unemployment is more prevalent in the urban areas than in the rural areas.
“The effects of unemployment in general and youth unemployment in particular, are also multi-dimension. For instance, youth unemployment has a tendency to generate social unrest and crime. The growth potential of an economy as well as poverty alleviation can also be easily undermined when young and vibrant people remain out of work.”
Usman noted that as part of the goal set in the Nigeria Vision 20:2020, enough attention had been given to the development of the Nigerian youth, adding that some of the specific youth employment programmes in the country included the establishment of the National Directorate of Employment, NDE, the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P and the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria, YOUWIN.
He added that: “In Nigeria, the Vision 20:2020 pays significant attention to Nigerian youth, the focus areas being youth and the empowerment, youth education and training, youth and health, youth and the environment, youth leisure, recreation and community service and youth and Nigeria’s image.
“In the same vein, the strategic thrust of the First National Implementation Plan is “to develop and empower the youths to be innovative, gainfully employed, have voice and participate fully in the development process of the nation”.