By Appolos Christian
Enough of the “we will, we will” statements and “PowerPoint presentations” in every gathering, was the most important take-home message given to government representatives, employers of labour, business owners and labour union leaders across Africa at the recent 6th Africa Social Partners Summit hosted by the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association in Lagos.
Thunderously preached by the president of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, governments in Africa and employers were told that the consequences of selfishness, corruption, irresponsible and careless attitude of leaders in the continent towards doing the needful and taking job creation seriously, have started manifesting and may be worst if result oriented actions are not taken immediately to tame the evolving tide.
“Africans owe ourselves the duty of pulling ourselves by the bootstraps and attending to the work of creating sustainable jobs and meaningful living for our people. Job creation must now be taken down from PowerPoint presentations in beautiful summits like this and taken to the corridors of effective public policy making to achieve the streets of industrialization, healthy trade conditions, progressive and productive tax regimes, and an informal sector fully organized for genuine transition to the formal economy.
“Very challenging is the revelation that out of the 73 million jobs created in the past few years on the African continent, only about 16 million jobs were grabbed by young people. When you add this to the fact that Africa has a youth population of more than 200 million people, it will be easier to appreciate the enormity of the demographic time bomb sitting on our laps.
“Ordinarily, our huge youth population should be an advantage to us but if we fail to manage this strength, our asset could turn to a demographic disaster.
“Whatever we do, we must ensure that the quantum leap in human population in Africa must not lag behind proactive visioning and action by government. We must plan and act like tomorrow is already here because Africa’s tomorrow is already at the door heavily pregnant.
“If we reduce the high incidence of official corruption, there will be enough funds to fund economic growth and bring about shared prosperity.” The NLC President said.
Earlier, Wabba stated; “We must delve into the heart of the issue and work together as partners with a common stake and facing a common foe to find answers. I find huge comfort in the prognosis offered in the Blueprint for Jobs in Africa – infrastructural expansion, attraction of ‘responsible’ investors (the operative word here is ‘responsible’) and upholding education, health, training and social dialogue as true standard of human development.
“All over the world we need jobs. In Africa, we need plenty new jobs. Yet, jobs will not happen by happenstance. Job generation is a reward for economic growth. The economy can only grow with increase in purchasing power. The wages of workers underline the purchasing power in any clime. It is a major driver for productivity and growth.
“Wages in Africa are the poorest around the world. For a continent that is endowed with enormous mineral and human resource, this is totally unacceptable. It is sad that while other regions have deservedly elevated the wage discourse to decent and living wages, many African governments and employers still see minimum wage as some sort of lottery for workers. Workers all over Africa demand for wage justice.
“We urge social partners all over the continent to take seriously the issue of wage justice. In a continent where the periodic review of national minimum wage has become the mother of all struggles, we must question our commitment to truly inspiring economic growth and creating the much-needed jobs.
“In order to create sustainable jobs for Africa’s teeming youth,African governments must create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive. We call on our governments to fix and expand existing infrastructure especially roads, rails,