President says Africa’s unemployment situation compounded by growing population of young people entering the labour market yearly.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday proposed the adoption of social protection strategies by African leaders in their developmental plans to lift citizens out of the poverty net.
The President said this in his keynote address at the plenary session of the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa, WEFA 2014, in Abuja.
Providing for the poorer and vulnerable members of the society, he said, remained a major challenge to governments in the continent. He pointed out that the creation of jobs for the growing youth population remained crucial if inequality and unemployment crises in the various countries must be addressed.
Citing the various jobs creation initiatives of his government to facilitate inclusive growth in Nigeria, the President noted that despite the insecurity challenge the administration was facing, it would continue to build on the achievements recorded so far to expand the frontiers of poverty alleviation through policies that support private sector investments in the economy. He, however, noted that the unemployment challenge was not peculiar to African economies, considering the emerging experiences in Asia, Europe and other continents. Mr. Jonathan said Africa’s unemployment situation was compounded by the growing population of young people entering the labour market yearly.
“We must ensure that the poorer and vulnerable members of our societies are also carried along. We need economic growth but we must work to ensure that this growth is inclusive,” he said. “In Africa, most of our countries must begin to think about introducing social protection measures building on the strong traditions we already have of caring for one another.”
He said Africa faced more difficult challenges in the years ahead in its effort to provide adequate infrastructure and create jobs. The continent would also face the challenge of harnessing and developing the skills of its young population in a manner that would help provide unique dividends to its people, he added.
On the country-specific steps being taken by Nigerian to create jobs, especially the You-WIN initiative, the President said that government’s policies were focused on a number of priority sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, housing and construction, and the services sector that have high job-creation potentials.
The Federal Government, he said, was working to unlock the various obstacles faced by businesses in these sectors so that jobs could be created. He said that his administration was learning from the examples of other countries like China, to see what they did to create jobs for their citizens.
“For us in Nigeria, job creation has been the main focus of our ongoing Transformation Agenda – which is our programme to modernise and diversify the Nigerian economy,” he said. “Job creation is one of the concerns that keep me up at night, and it has been the main theme of our Federal Government Budget in recent years. We recognise that the private sector will be the engine of growth and job-creation.”
Mr. Jonathan said Federal Government has also put in place the necessary conditions to support private sector-led economic growth efforts. These conditions include the creation of a stable macroeconomic environment in form of low inflation, stable exchange rates and investment in critical infrastructure such as roads, railways, power and investing in the development of skills of the people, amongst others.
On the potential benefits of Nigeria’s rebased gross domestic product, GDP, and other initiatives aimed at making the economy attractive to investors, Mr. Jonathan said the exercise would help Nigeria plan better and take better decisions on development.
On the outcome of the WEFA, the President said he was convinced that with the quality of participation, coupled with the political will and commitment of African leaders, decisions and the right steps required to take Africa to greater heights would be taken.
The President thanked the governments of China, the United State of America, the United Kingdom and France for pledging support to the effort to tackle the threat of terrorism in Nigeria.
“Let me specially thank all of you for accepting to come, especially at this time that as a nation we are facing attacks of terrorists. Let me appreciate you all individually and collectively for your support for us and your sentiments expressed,” he said.
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