President Goodluck Jonathan and his economic team would not be too pleased with the latest report out of the United Nations, which basically states that in terms of employment for young people and Nigerians in general, Nigerians are worse off now than they were two years ago before the president’s election.
General unemployment rate has increased from 21.1 per cent to 23.9 per cent, while youth unemployment at 37.7 per cent is one of the worst in Sub Saharan Africa.
The 291-page report called ‘The African Economic Outlook 2012’, was jointly published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA; the United Nations Development Population, UNDP; the African Development Bank (ADB) Group; and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD.
However, there were some positives to take away from the report. In what is a recurring theme in all such publications recently, Nigeria’s economic growth was described in the report as being “robust.” The robust growth mainly propelled by the non-oil sector (telecommunications, construction, wholesale/retail trade, hotel and restaurant services, manufacturing, and agriculture.)
Another good news was that despite the dominance of the oil sector, agriculture accounted for the largest single share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is very significant.
“Sustained growth in the agricultural sector is a principal factor in promoting inclusive economic growth, reducing poverty and ensuring the nation’s food security,” said Mr. Emmanuel Nnadozie, the Director, Economic Department, NEPAD division of UNECA, who presented the publication on Thursday in Addis Ababa.
The problem for Jonathan’s economic team is that whereas the economy is seeing robust growth, the poverty in the country is also increasing.
“Poverty is also very high and persistent. Social indicators in health and education remain weak,” said Mr. Nnadozie.
“To mitigate the negative impacts of the global economic crisis, the government pursued an expansionary fiscal policy to maintain growth and social sector spending that led to pressure on consumer prices,” he said.
The publication listed dilapidated infrastructure particularly in power, road transport and railways; and the overdependence on the oil and gas industry as impediments to the economy’s growth and the country’s absorptive capacity.
The publication which is in its 11th year, gave a country by country economic performance of 54 African countries and was themed “Promoting Youth Employment”.