Unlocking Nigeria’s Economic Potential
By: Kevin Kalra, Senior Project Coordinator, Global Business Coalition for Education
Nigeria is ready for foreign business investment. The country has overtaken South Africa as the continent’s largest economy. In new government data, released in April 2014, the country’s GDP reached $510 billion in 2013 (rather than the $270 billion previously reported) and $454 billion in 2012.
But now, Nigeria has an opportunity to make its growth inclusive and unlock its social and economic potential. Despite its steady GDP growth, Nigeria has only recently begun to tackle poverty. A McKinsey & Company report – Nigeria’s renewal: Delivering inclusive growth in Africa’s largest economy – shows how Nigeria can reduce poverty by adopting global best practices to improve education and health delivery.
Nigeria has the 9th largest workforce in the world and by 2030, the number of Nigerians of working age is expected to double. Without quality education and opportunities for training, Nigerian youth face a reality of limited job opportunities because of limited skills. This is especially true for Nigeria’s 10 million out-of-school children.
It will be critical for government to improve education services to ensure young people meet the requisite skills of the market. Low levels of skills in the workforce reduce the effectiveness of employees. The report cites that 70% of federal civil servants have only high school education or less and fewer than 5% have modern computer skills.
BUSINESS CAN PLAY A ROLE
Ideally, companies investing in Africa’s most populous nation should be there for the long-term. Through its corporate social investments, taxes and investing in communities, companies can support government efforts and help develop local talent. Employee development programs – like the Dangote Academy – can train promising graduates in relevant leadership skills.
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