Nigeria’s large working age population to drive economic growth

Filed under: BD Human Capital |

Nigeria has been identified as one developing economy where a large and growing working age population will help drive economic growth. This was revealed in a 2014 report on Nigeria’s Renewal: Delivering Inclusive Growth in Africa’s Largest Economy, by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) and McKinsey’s Nigeria office.

UN pop data 33While advanced economies especially in Europe are experiencing declining and aging populations, and may continue to suffer this demographic deficit, thus a decreasing number of young working age persons, Nigeria and other emerging economies would remain the frontier human capital markets because of huge and growing working age populations.

The Report states that by 2030 the number of Nigerians of working age (15-64) will be up to 50 per cent higher than today. It further states that ‘’at current labour participation rates (56 per cent), that demographic dividend could add 0.8 per cent per year to GDP.” It is useful to recall that in the 1980s China relied on its demographic dividend to drive economic growth. Brazil benefitted from same demographic dividend to grow its economy in the 1990s.

Similarly the International Labor Organization’s (ILO, 2011) population growth rate projections for the next 15 years  reveals  that the working-age population is projected to decrease  in Europe and grow in North America .  This implies that the growth of the global workforce will be driven by Asia, Latin America and Africa.  However, sub-Saharan Africa is predicted to have the fastest growth. Thus in 2030 according to ILO projections sub-Saharan Africa will have a working-age population of 793 million people – a 70 percent rise from the current 466 million.

The crucial challenge facing Nigeria is how to ensure that her huge and growing working age population acquires the proper skills that would enhance their productivity and the overall productivity of the economy. If this does not happen, and fast, there are fears that Nigeria risks future social upheaval the likes of what occurred among restive unemployed Arab youths in France in 2005.

With more than 35 million Nigerian adults not being able to read or write, and a situation where “more than two-thirds of federal civil service employees have only a high school education or less, and less than 5 per cent have modern computer skills” as reported in the McKinsey Report, the need for an effective skills formation strategy is imperative and urgent.

In recent years Nigeria’s employers have decried the poor work skills of the growing army of products from the country’s troubled tertiary education system, a system once glorified but which has steadily fallen into turbulence and disrepute.

Analysts confirm that it is the quality of Nigeria’s human capital that will position Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy (with a GDP of $510 billion) for stable growth rather than the singular profusion of working age population.

Ikenna Obi

3 Responses to Nigeria’s large working age population to drive economic growth

  1. Although it’s good to be optimistic, let’s stop fooling ourselves. We have not trained our youth sufficiently to be able to fully benefit from this projected potential. Where are we in terms of achieving Education for All (EFA) objectives? Where are we when it comes to important gains in literacy at all levels? Where is our capacity to educate our youth in the tertiary institutions? Where are we in the caliber of our scholars as measured against global levels of accomplishment? What is the state of our educational infrastructure? What connections have we made between education, job training and economic goals? When we have serious and independently verifiable accomplishments in these areas, we should begin to take these projections seriously. It won’t happen overnight. The miracle will not be produced by ONLY praying. Faith without works is dead! Nigeria is blessed. Let’s stop squandering our talents and get to work.

    Mojubaolu O. Okome
    July 29, 2014 at 1:46 pm
    Reply

  2. I BELIEVE THAT THIS IS POSSIBLE BUT OUR POLICY MAKERS NEED TO THINK DEEPLY ON HOW TO ACHIEVE THIS FEAT.WE HAVE ALL IT TAKES TO BULID THIS NATION AND ITS ECONOMY TO AN ENVIABLE HEIGHT IF WE ESCHEW BI-PARTISAN POLITICS.OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IS IN SHAMBLES, WHICH SUPPOSE TO PLAY CHIEF ROLE IN THIS REGARD.MORESO, OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM DOES NOT ENTREPRENEURSHIP,SKILL ACQUISTIONS AND SELF EMPLOYMENT.THIS IS WHERE WE ARE GETTING IT WRONG AND NEED TO BE CHANGED. IF WE OUR LEADERS CAN STOP PLAYING POLITICS WITH VIRTUALLY EVERYTHING IN NIGERIA AND FOCUS ON CAPACITY BUILDING AND CREATING ENABLING ENVIRONMENT FOR THIS PROJECTION TO THRIVE, SURELY WE WILL GET TO THAT ELDORADO.CONVERSELY, IF NOT DONE, THE INCREASING POPULATION WILL TURN OUT TO BE A HYDRA HEADED MONSTER

    patrick ibeakanma
    August 1, 2014 at 9:21 am
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  3. Nigeria seen as a largest working age population to drive economic growth does not have meaning to the country seeing the present situation of things happening in the country. Are you referring to the aged alone or the youths are included? If so,how many youths are moving about in the street without job. Are youths not among the 168 billion that made the population?
    Where are we in the world ranking table? How many of these working population are satisfied with their daily needs? We can only say; Nigeria have the highest wealthiest politicians in the world. Even at that, it does not make any meaning to the country because they only hide their money outside the country.
    If the money and infrastructures most politicians have abroad are in Nigeria, lots of youths will be employed and use to empower some of the youths who have no jobs, and I don’t think the problem of insecurity and robbery will rise to this level. Look at the cost of education in Nigerian Universities at moment.
    For example, non of these top honourable people’s children and loved wife’s are in the country schooling or to be kill by the frequent bombs blast.
    My suggestion for Nigeria is; ‘LET ALL THOSE LONG STAYED POLITICIANS SET ASIDE FOR THE YOUNG ONES TO MANAGE THE COUNTRY’.
    You will agree with me that if a old father or mother lived for a very long years in the family, he or she will be thinking like a child, his or her taught will not make any meaning to the development of the family.
    That is the situation with Nigerians.

    Edumu Peter T.
    August 4, 2014 at 12:39 am
    Reply

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