By Victor Young
Nigeria, on Thursday, appealed for international aid and stimulus package for Africa to enhance technology infrastructure and human capital development needed to achieve a better normal human-centred future of work within the COVID-19 pandemic period and afterwards.
Speaking through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, the Federal Government made the appeal while speaking on behalf of the African region at the Constituent’s Day of the Global Summit on COVID-19 and the World of Work, organised by the International Labour Organisation, ILO.
Delivering the Nigeria/Africa statement at the summit attended virtually, Ngige noted that the pandemic had been described as one of the most dangerous challenges of our world by the United Nations scribe because of the severe health and associated socio-economic consequences over the first half of the year 2020.
In a statement Ngige through by his Media Aide, Emmanuel Nzomiwu, he acknowledged immense potentials of the African region, which accounts for about 17 percent of the world’s population and 60 percent of uncultivated arable land, but with only three percent of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
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According to Ngige, “almost all institutions have been subjected to intense pressures, exposing our common vulnerability and need for one another.
“Africa’s swift response to the pandemic holds lessons for other regions as reported cases is lower than was feared, even as many countries complained of lower testing challenges.
“Our shared challenge now is how to blend proportionally these responses to achieve a better human-centred future of work in line with our Centenary Declaration last year and overcome the long term effects on governments’ across regions.”
Ngige stated that Africa, as the youngest and fastest urbanising continent hosting over 24 million people, more than China and India combined, aims at generating full productive, inclusive and decent work opportunities with an emphasis on young people.
He noted that: “The future of work is here. It is for us to determine how to make it better. Teleworking is now a new normal to drive the various economies globally, which makes internet services imperative in Africa, opening up and strengthening economic sectors for skill acquisition and technological innovation.
“We are determined to continuously improve, reinforce and strengthen technological infrastructure, enhance policy coordination, improve ease of doing business, among others, to take the full advantage of teleworking and nurture human capital development.
“Our priority is to draw commitment to making decent work a reality for African youths skill development, create technological pathways in nationally endowed economic sectors, such as tourism and Agriculture as part of immediate post-COVID-19 recovery plan.”
He assured that African countries would continue to strengthen the capacity of all people to build-back-better on post-C0VID-19 by increasing investment in human capital, tackling gender inequality and progressively extending sustainable social protection while supporting private sector as the primary source of economic growth and job creation.
The minister explained that the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement last year as part of a regional ambition to link trade routes and facilitate the integration of opportunities to eliminate tariffs on inter African trade, induce employment, increase infrastructure development and create and create a more competitive yet sustainable environment for cross border trade.
He observed Africa was no stranger to pandemics and challenges as demonstrated during the Ebola epidemic and had always come out strong, recording important milestones, such as average 5 percent GDP growth since 2000, decline in poverty from 54 percent in 1990 to 41 percent, affecting over 400 million people in 2015.