Ade Atobatele argues that given Nigeria’s current scenario, technology can be instrumental in supporting both employment and GDP growth.
On one hand, GDP growth is an essential indicator of a country’s economic health. Nigeria, like any other developing country, needs a robust GDP growth to create wealth, expand its economy, and increase its capacity to provide basic amenities to its citizens. GDP growth promotes investments, attracts foreign capital, and helps in infrastructure development, which ultimately benefits employment growth.
On the other hand, employment growth is crucial to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are shared equitably among the population. With a population of over 200 million, Nigeria is grappling with unemployment rates that have consistently been above 20% for the past few years. Thus, employment growth is crucial to provide people with jobs, increase their purchasing power, and boost domestic consumption.
While both GDP growth, and employment growth, are important, given the current scenario in Nigeria, employment growth should take precedence over GDP growth. This is because unemployment, particularly among the youth, has been identified as one of the root causes of social unrest in Nigeria, including banditry, insurgency, and other forms of criminal activity. The government needs to create jobs and opportunities for the youth to reduce unemployment and the associated social ills.
Technology can play a crucial role in supporting both employment and GDP growth. For instance, technological advancements can lead to productivity gains in industries, which can increase GDP growth.
Additionally, technology can support job creation by creating new opportunities in areas such as e-commerce, online learning, and digital finance. Moreover, technological innovation can lead to the creation of entirely new industries and jobs, promoting long-term employment growth.
Firstly, let’s delve into why employment growth is crucial in Nigeria. As mentioned earlier, unemployment is a significant challenge in Nigeria, with over 21 million people currently unemployed, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
This high level of unemployment has been linked to the rise of social ills such as banditry, insurgency, and other forms of criminal activity. Furthermore, it has been reported that 42% of Nigerian youths are either unemployed or underemployed, leading to a rise in poverty and social unrest.
In contrast, GDP growth does not necessarily lead to job creation. According to a report by the African Development Bank, Nigeria’s GDP grew by 0.5% in 2020, while unemployment rose to 33.3%. This indicates that GDP growth alone is insufficient to create jobs and reduce unemployment rates in Nigeria.
Therefore, to address Nigeria’s unemployment challenges, there is a need to create an environment that supports job creation, particularly in sectors with high employment potential.
One area that holds significant potential for job creation in Nigeria is the technology sector. According to a report by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), Nigeria’s technology ecosystem had the potential to create over 3 million jobs by 2025.
One example of a startup that has been successful in job creation in Nigeria is Andela. Andela is a company that trains African developers and connects them with global companies.
According to a report by Quartz Africa, Andela had created over 1,000 jobs in Nigeria and other African countries. This demonstrates the potential for startups in the technology sector to create jobs and reduce unemployment in Nigeria.
Moreover, technology can also support GDP growth by increasing productivity and efficiency in industries. For instance, the use of technology in agriculture can lead to increased crop yields, which can increase output and contribute to GDP growth.
Additionally, technology can improve supply chain efficiency, reducing production costs and increasing competitiveness, ultimately leading to GDP growth.
One example of a technology solution that has the potential to drive productivity gains in agriculture is precision agriculture. Precision agriculture involves the use of technologies such as drones, sensors, and data analytics to monitor crops, soil, and weather conditions.
By providing farmers with real-time insights, precision agriculture can enable them to make data-driven decisions and optimise crop yields. This technology has been successful in other countries such as the United States, and there is potential for it to be applied in Nigeria to increase agricultural productivity.
Furthermore, the Nigerian government has taken steps to support the growth of the technology sector.
The government passed the Startup Bill, which aims to create an enabling environment for startups to thrive in Nigeria. The Bill provides for tax incentives, funding, and other support for startups.
Additionally, individual states in Nigeria such as Lagos and Ogun have launched their own initiatives to support startups and the technology sector.
Truly GDP growth is crucial, but employment growth should take precedence in Nigeria’s current scenario to reduce unemployment rates and address associated social ills.
Which comes to the fact that technology however can support both employment and GDP growth in Nigeria.
The technology sector has significant potential to create jobs, and technological innovations can increase productivity and competitiveness, ultimately leading to GDP growth.
With the support of initiatives such as the Startup Bill and individual State efforts, Nigeria’s technology sector can be harnessed to support the country’s economic development goals.
In conclusion while both GDP growth and employment growth are important, given Nigeria’s current scenario, employment growth should take priority. Nonetheless, technology can be instrumental in supporting both employment and GDP growth. By leveraging technology, Nigeria can create more jobs, increase productivity, and promote economic growth.
About author: Ade Atobatele is Founder at Remarkable Ideas Ltd | Technology Startup Mentor | Digital Globalization Evangelist | Entrepreneur.