The World Bank recently committed $160 million to a project geared to-wards the creation of jobs through development of enterprises in Nigeria. In the same breath, the United Kingdom Department of International Development is providing a grant of $100 million for the same project. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, who made this known while inaugurating an inter-ministerial committee to oversee the project, said the impact of this intervention will manifest in the next six months. He explained that the initiative is aimed at job creation and increased growth in special high potential value chain sectors. The scheme, which is scheduled to run from June 2013 to September 2018, is expected to create a minimum of 460,000 jobs. About 110,000 of these will be direct, while 350,000 will be indirect. Youth unemployment is one of the big-gest social problems in Nigeria with only about 50 per cent of people in that bracket either gainfully employed or, in most cases, underemployed.
The situation is so bad that the unemployment statistics released occasionally by agencies such as the Federal Office of Statistics and National Directorate of Employment (NDE) are taken with a pinch of salt because there is usually no correlation between such data and the reality on ground. Other countries put accent on this problem by closely monitoring unemployment rates. In Nigeria, there is an insouciant attitude to issues pertaining to unemployment. It is possibly only in Nigeria that thou-sands of graduates of tertiary institutions remain unemployed years after completion of their studies. This is worsened by the fact that each year, we have a surfeit of graduates from different types of institutions. There seems to be no deliberate effort to tackle this social menace as more and more prospective higher institutions get licensed without any commensurate thought for creation of employment for their products on graduation. The implication of this is that graduates leave school without any idea of what the future holds in store for them due to systemic planless ness by the government and other stake-holders. This latest intervention from the World Bank and the United Kingdom Department of International Development is highly commendable and we hope that the Nigerian government will not abdicate its part of the social contract. How this fund is managed will determine the success proﬁt of the initiative. Going by the scope of this intervention, in the services sector, we have the bludgeoning information and communication technology sector, wholesale and retail trade, hospitality and tourism. All these areas can create a lot of jobs and have potentials for growth. It is noteworthy that the World Bank has identified these areas of strong influence in the economy that can provide opportunities for employment. According to Aganga, the project has been put in place and supported by the two agencies to remove the obstacles to growth in those sectors and increase their competitiveness, which is a key element in any industrial revolution. We hope, as Aganga has assured, that the project would fund localized infra-structure and address gaps ire optic backbone for Nigeria to compete in the global marketplace. The poor quality of service of the telecommunication companies operating in Nigeria, for which the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) sanctioned them last week, should also be tackled with this fund. We must get it right at home before venturing onto the international arena. Government’s belief that the project will equally evolve a new business model that would provide technical assistance and linkage services to the small producers in the targeted sectors to enable them sup-ply local and global supermarkets chain, and also support local construction companies to improve quality, low-cost innovation and production standards, can only be realised if the entire scope of this project is pursued vigorously. The claim by the sector leaderance and private sector, of the World Bank, Michael Wang, that there are enough plans and provision to ensure that the project would be able to reach 10,000 enterprises throughout the country is reassuring. It will expectedly create a platform for the enterprises to relate with one another in the country and bring different knowledge to growth issues. We urge a faithful implementation of this project to ensure a new developmental paradigm that will boost Nigeria’s entrepreneurial pursuits and create jobs for our teeming unemployed youths.