Business Labour Matters

Job Deficit Consequences: Africa’s tomorrow already at the door, heavily pregnant

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,

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