Solving Unemployment And Data Problems

Posted On September 1, 2016 | Written by Emmanuel Oluwatosin

I posted the tweet above two days and it has been on my mind since. I got some interesting mentions in response. See below.


From the different responses, it is clear that unemployment is a great problem that needs urgent attention. Every day, I read about people looking for jobs and how it has been hard to find a job in Nigeria. Youth unemployment in Nigeria has doubled between 2012 and 2016. During a youth employment panel at 2016 World Economic Forum, Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director for Mckinsey and Company referred to youth unemployment as a pandemic and placed the unemployment figure for Nigeria at 50%.

According to the National Bureau for Statistics Nigeria Q2’2016 report, the economically active population or working age population (persons within ages 15 and 64) increased from 106.00 million in Q1 2016 to 106.69 million in Q2 2016. This represents a 0.65% increase over the previous quarter and a 3.02% increase when compared to Q2 2014. In Q2 2016, the labour force population (i.e those within the working age population willing, able and actively looking for work) increased to 79.9 million from 78.5 million in Q1 2016, representing an increase of 1.78% in the labour force during the quarter. This means 1.39 million persons from the economically active population entered the labour force, that is individuals that were able, willing and actively looking for work. This magnitude of this increase between Q1 and Q2 2016 is smaller when compared to Q4 2015 and Q12016, which was an increase of 1.59m in the Labour force population. Within the reference period, the total number of person in full time employment (did any form of work for at least 40hours) decreased by 351,350 or 0.65% when compared to the previous quarter, and also decreased by 749,414 or 1.38% when compared to Q2 of 2015.

The number of underemployed in the labour force (those working but doing menial jobs not commensurate with their qualifications or those not engaged in fulltime work and merely working for few hours) increased by 392,390 or 2.61%, resulting in an increase in the underemployment rate to 19.3 % (15.4million persons) in Q2 2016 from 19.1% (15,02 million persons) in Q1 2016, 18.7% (14.42 million persons) in Q4 2015, from 17.4% (13.2 million persons) in Q3 2015 and 18.3% (13.5 million persons) in Q2 2015. During the reference period, the number of unemployed in the labour force increased by 1,158,700 persons, resulting in an increase in the national unemployment rate to 13.3% in Q2 2016 from 12.1 in Q1 2016, 10.4% in Q4 2015 from 9.9% in Q3 2015 and from 8.2% in Q2 2015. In view of this, there were a total of 26.06 million persons in the Nigerian labour force in Q2 2016, that were either unemployed or underemployed compared to compared to 24.5 million in Q1 2016 and 22.6 million in Q4 2015.

These stats are alarming and call for urgent attention. If things are going to change, it is clear that we cannot leave this to government alone.  We could create more sustainable jobs if businesses have the right environment to scale. Aside from poor infrastructure and poor business regulations, most businesses also lack intellectual strength to make bold decisions. They simply practice “subsistence business” always managing to survive month after month. They also rely on studies carried out by other organisations in most cases people who don’t understand their environment or business.

The 21st century business requires constant update, be it operating systems, phone and PC applications, market data etc. The bigger corporations spend a lot of money to maintain the tempo but small businesses find it very challenging. This simply means that Africa may not achieve fore-casted growth if we don’t find creative ways for SMEs to scale. A good example is the recently released Mobile Africa report. The report points out that, although Africa will show the fastest growth in subscribers, it will still account for the lowest penetration by 2020, citing reasons like technical literacy, coverage and high cost of ownership as a proportion of income. How then can SMEs achieve scaling?

Can these two problems be solved with a single approach? According to @pystar, yes and I totally agree.

Will it be easy? No. According to my oga, @emekaokoye, this will involve carving niches, filling gaps, embracing & extending and meeting unfulfilled

I will be sharing my thoughts on how I plan to solve these problems in future posts.

Image credits: wok

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