October 24, 2019

Southern Nigerians more willing to emigrate than northerners ― Survey

Southern Nigerians more willing to emigrate than northerners ― Survey
  • Nigeria’s working-age population will increase 125% by 2050 ― World Bank

By Rasheed Sobowale

The World Bank Group has estimated that the current trend of Nigeria’s population increase will make the nation experience about 125 per cent increase in its working-age population by 2050. This means those aged 15 to 64 will increase from 107,702,000 in 2019 to 242,994,000 in 2050.

Southern Nigerians more willing to emigrate than northerners ― Survey

Nigeria Youths

The Nigeria 2008 population was estimated by World Bank to be about 150.3 million. This was about 230 per cent more than the total population of the Democratic Republic of Congo at the time, (DR Congo: 60.37 million) and 10 times more than the population of the Republic of the Niger which the nation shares land border with to the north.

Today, Worldometers estimate the current population of Nigeria at more than 202 million. That is about 25 per cent more than the 2008 estimation.

Quick facts about Nigeria’s population extracted from Worldometers page

The median age in Nigeria is 17.9 years.

Nigeria present economic state

In 2015, Nigeria was the second in the rank of countries with most extremely poor people. Strikingly, half of the total extremely poor people in the world live in just five (5) countries India (24%); Nigeria (12%), DR Congo (7%), Ethiopia (4%) and Bangladesh (3%). The estimated total of extremely poor people in the world was 736 million and about 368 million lives in the 5 countries listed.

Nigeria's working-age population will increase 125% by 2050 ― World Bank

Source: World Bank.

In just three years, acclaimed “Giant of Africa” clinched the first spot for the place with the most extreme poor people in the world.

Graph of Nigeria's extreme poverty population

This means Nigeria has the largest number of people living under US$1.90/day. This can not be in entirety the cause of the recent recession the country was in. Nigeria enjoyed considerable economic growth for about a decade before the recession according to World Bank analysis.

The country was declared to have gone into recession in the first quarter of 2016 and the NBS announced Nigeria is out of recession in September 2017 according to Vanguard report.

Bearing all of this in mind plus the high proposed increase in the working-age population in Nigeria, the country, therefore, needs to be on its toes to set things aright.

What the increase in working-age population means for Nigeria

In September, Vanguard reported that “The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in real term declined quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) by 0.16 basis points to 1.94 per cent in the second quarter of 2019 (Q2’19).”

“According to the bureau, the GDP performance was aided by stability in oil output as well as the successful political transition.”


World Bank analysis noted that at the current GDP growth rates, the Nigeria labour market will be unable to absorb all new entrants by 2050.

It can be argued at present that the current Nigeria economy is not absorbing enough of this new vibrant task force considering the rate of unemployment in the nation.

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The unemployment rate was just 7.5 per cent in 2015 before it exponentially increased to 23.1 per cent in 2018 deducing from the National Bureau of Statistics report.


Following the trend of the year-on-year increase in the employment rate, World Bank estimated Nigeria will need about 30 million additional jobs to keep a considerable number of the working-age employed by 2030.

Quoting World Bank report; “Even maintaining the assumption of an economic growth rate of 6 per cent per year, only one in four Nigerians entering the labour market will be able to obtain good, wage-paying jobs in the formal sector.”

Figure 1: Nigeria’s working-age population (15-64) is set to increase 125 percent by 2050

World Bank proposed intervention and solution

The World Bank Group according to a publication on its website has stated that the best way for Nigeria to prepare for the future increase in its population increase is “to promote new legal labour migration pathways with countries of destination across the globe”.

“At current GDP growth rates, the local labour market will be unable to absorb all the new entrants.” World Bank noted.

The report continued; “One way for Nigeria to reduce this pressure, and make the most of remittance and skills transfers, is to promote new legal labour migration pathways with countries of destination across the globe.

“The World Bank has just started a new task aimed at promoting such pathways; the content and potential impact of which this blog will discuss.”

According to the publication, the World Bank initiative termed “Global Skill Partnership” will seek a consensus for two countries such that one such as Nigeria will agree with a more advanced country in need of labour to supply it with skilled labour.

Nigeria has reportedly agreed the World Bank proposal.

Here is the plan in the World Bank’s words; “One avenue being explored by the World Bank is a Global Skill Partnership — a bilateral agreement between equal partners.

“The country of destination agrees to provide technology and finance to train potential migrants with targeted skills in the country of origin, prior to migration and receives migrants with precisely the skills they need to integrate and contribute best upon arrival.

“The country of origin agrees to provide that training and gets support for the training of non-migrants too—increasing rather than draining human capital.

“The Global Skill Partnership model is being trialed around the world and was endorsed, by name, in the Global Compact for Migration, approved by 163 countries, including Nigeria.”

How many Nigerians are willing to migrate?

A survey by Afrobarometer revealed that “one in three Nigerians have considered emigration, most to find economic opportunity”.

“Thoughts of emigration increase steadily with respondents’ level of education, ranging from 21% of those with no formal education to 44% among those with post-secondary qualifications (Figure 2). Younger respondents are more likely to consider leaving the country than their elders (39% of 18- to 35-year-olds vs. 22% of those over 55). And city residents tend to think more about emigration than their rural counterparts (42% vs. 30%).” Afrobarometer stated. [Full Survey Report HERE]

Residents in Southern Nigeria were also discovered to be more willing to migrate than their Northern counterpart.

World Bank noted; “Much can, and should, be done domestically to improve the skills of this new working-age population and link them into good employment opportunities at home.

“Currently, the formal skills development system in Nigeria suffers from capacity constraints and low external efficiency, due to the absence of linkages between curriculum design and labour market information (LMI), especially from industry and enterprises.

“Only about 2 per cent of all secondary education students are accommodated in technical colleges. This results from years of under-investment in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) eco-system.

“Ongoing World Bank engagements through the Edo Economic Transformation Project and the Innovation Development and Effectiveness in the Acquisition of Skills (IDEAS) Project are helping create better linkages between industry and curriculum design domestically in Nigeria.”

Working-age advantage for Nigeria

Nigeria has a great edge compared to China as it stands although the nation does not have much population compared to China.

Most companies at the start moved to China in search of cheaper labour but in recent years, the cost of labour in China has significantly risen without much increase in productivity.

According to CNN report, “These days, China’s labour costs are only 4% cheaper than those in the U.S. when productivity is factored in, according to Oxford Economics.

“That’s because wages in China have risen much faster than increases in productivity. Coupled with a strengthening yuan, Chinese labour costs have grown dramatically. Meanwhile, huge productivity improvements in the U.S. have helped keep labour costs down.”

Also, the working-age population of China is fast shrinking according to the report of its national bureau of statistics, Caixin.


For Nigeria to leverage its working-age population instead of it being a liability as it is presently, the nation will need to attend to some issues highlighted by Deloitte analysis of doing business in Africa.

According to its report titled, So, Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa. Now what?; “Companies looking to operate on the African continent cannot be guaranteed long-term certainty or a high degree of predictability as the continent offers unique challenges.

“These markets are characterised by several challenges that contribute to the perception of Africa as a risky destination for business.

“Poor governance, the prevalence or perception of corruption, tenuous legislative frameworks, fragile security of tenure and unclear royalty and tax regimes make strategic decisions difficult on the continent.

“Furthermore, longstanding issues such as civil unrest, insurgency and a history of ethnic conflict pose additional operational risks in certain countries.

“Infrastructure also remains a significant barrier for African operations.”

Vanguard News Nigeria.