Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Update: Unemployment, Inequality are Nigeria’s biggest challenges – Okonjo-Iweala

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Okonjo Iweala

The Finance Minister said this in Lagos on Monday.

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said on Monday that unemployment is the nation’s biggest challenge.

She said this at the 4th Annual Pan-Africa 1:1 Investor Conference held in Lagos.

Ms. Okonjo-Iweala said the recorded growth in Nigeria’s economy is yet to reflect on the nation’s employment rate, which, according to her, is still high.

“We need to make the recorded growth reflect on job creation, it’s our biggest challenge,” she said.

She said unemployment which is a major issue of concern to President Goodluck Jonathan lies at the root of the nation’s reforms.

Inequality too

She added that another concern is the rising inequality of income and earnings in Nigeria.

“The gap between the rich and the poor is growing in Nigeria” she said.

The minister said the two issues, unemployment and inequality, are of global concern.

“There is no body or people without challenges. These issues came up at the World Economic Forum. The question is what are we doing indeed to tackle this? We have a strategy. We are targeting how to keep a steady macro-economic environment,” she said.

“We are trying to correct our past errors of fiscal laxness in the past. We are trying to remove constraints to growth. We are working toward fiscal consolidation with growth,” she added.

She added that Nigeria spends too much on recurrent expenditure and too little on capital expenditure. The Minister said the nation’s economic team would like to see this slide down to, at least, a 60:40 ratio as recurrent expenditure sometimes rises to over 70 per cent over capital expenditure.

Yvonne Ike, CEO West Africa for Renaissance Capital, while commenting on the investment climate of the Nigeria, said Africa’s day has arrived.

“There would be an economic growth revolution in Africa and Nigeria would lead that revolution and it would happen at a faster rate than we ever expected” she said.

“We know power is still an issue. There are also issues of the rule of law, security challenges, lack of education, high unemployment rates and other challenges which have to be addressed and put in place,” she said. Despite these, “we are excited at what is happening in Africa. Growth would be phenomenal and Nigeria would lead that growth.”

Renaissance Capital, a leading emerging markets investment bank, began its three-day 4th Annual Pan-Africa 1:1 Investor Conference in Lagos on Monday.

The established, high-level investor-focused event provides insight into Africa’s rapid economic growth and investment opportunities from across the continent.

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