Poverty, Youth Unemployment and Straining Economy

In the words of Pope Francis “…we cannot resign ourselves to losing a generation of young people who do not have the dignity of work!…A generation without work is a future defeat for the country and for humanity.… We must fight against this, and help each other to find a solution, through help and solidarity.” These words resonate warning and a call to a more deliberate, strategic and enthusiastic process that resolves the problem of unemployment. Youths below the age of 24 account for nearly 40% of the world population, therefore it becomes imperative for us to address the global problem that affects this proportion of the population. According to the International Labour Organization’s global employment trends for youth, in 2015, almost 43 % of the global youth labour force is still either unemployed or working but living in poverty. This is a large proportion and the indices are far worse in most African countries. In the second quarter of 2016, Nigeria had an all time high youth unemployment rate of about 24%. For a nation whose youthful population is estimated to become 40% of its total population by 2050, this statistic is scary and demands immediate attention. But we cannot address the issue of youth unemployment with kid gloves, we must understand the employability of our youth in a globally changing economy where technology remains the defining factor in what is stale and what is fresh. We can not only strengthen the economy by providing jobs, but we must begin to train a pipeline of youths with the necessary job skills.

It is obvious that the global economy has weakened, as global economic growth remains lower than 3.5% and recent trends like the BREXIT vote serve as indicators that the economy will not get better anytime soon. The world is in a fix as to what economic policy must be implemented to resuscitate the economy. While we think of this, emerging economies are laden with a greater responsibility of diversification and the implementation of policies that mitigate risk as much as possible. To this end, countries like Nigeria must look deeply into the vast economic potential it has in order to engineer growth in Africa. There is more that can be said about the economic outlook of developing countries, the era of emergency funding and needs are over, billions of dollars in wasteful public expenditure must be cut down, bottlenecks that prevent ease of doing business must be addressed urgently with a more efficient system that facilitate business growth. In developed economies, policies that reduce inequality should be encouraged.

We have a future to preserve and we cannot do that when poverty prevails the land and over three billion people survive on less than three dollars every day, we cannot lay claim to economic growth when 80% of the world population lives in countries where inequality remains alarming. Growth must be all-inclusive, it must be felt by that young child who aspire to be a scientist, but spends his life on the street begging to survive, our economy should be all-encompassing, only then can we say with all sincerity of purpose that we are experiencing growth. We may not be able to fix it this year or next year but there must be indications that we are in the right direction. There must be indications that spell out optimism and possible fulfilment of dreams of hard-working and patriotic Africans who spend their lives working in the mines in South Africa and oven-like factories across Nigeria. We must lay more in the veranda of discuss about the well-being of the average African. We must question and kick every policies that enthrone the longevity of corrupt practices, and advance those that defines and promulgate political and economic theories of socialism and inclusion.

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