Finance minister, Dr Olusegun Aganga, while presenting a paper at a seminar organised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington DC, United States, on Friday, said that unemployment rate in Nigeria has hit 19.7 per cent this year.
He further disclosed that 49 per cent of those unemployed fall below the ages of 18 and 24.
However, despite rising cases of insecurity and kidnaps associated with the preparation for general elections, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced that Nigeria will sustain high economic growth figure in 2011.
During the seminar with the theme, â€˜Jumpstarting jobs and productivity in an uncertain Worldâ€™, Aganga said the government would reduce the unemployment figure by three per cent next year, through the provision of cheap capital and investment in agriculture.
He pointed out that the federal government had put in place arrangements to ensure that the private sector operators have access to cheap capital. One of the measures adopted recently was the bailout fund of N200 billion by the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the manufacturing sector.
He also assured foreign investors that the government was also committed to providing condusive environment for business operations which informed the unveiling of the power sector roadmap in September 2010 by President Goodluck Jonathan and the CBNâ€™s bailout of N600 billion for power sector projects.
The minister explained that the government and the World Bank are in partnership to boost investment in agriculture by employing 40 per cent of the nationâ€™s labour force and contributing over 40 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP).
â€œSince Nigerians are enterprising, we are focusing at ensuring the growth of SMEs through training in various institutions across the country such that they become self employed and also available for investors,â€ he said.
.However, the IMF report shows that in the shadow of financial crisis, global unemployment is estimated to have increased by nearly 34 million and 53 million people will remain in extreme poverty by 2015 than otherwise would have.
The report suggests that creating jobs and increasing productivity are more critical than ever to developing countries prospects for generating growth, reducing poverty and achieving the millennium development goals.
The IMF also advocated skilled workforce and establishment of industries that can compete abroad and create demand at home to boost creation of jobs.
The World Economic Outlook for October 2010, released by the IMF, shows that Nigeria as the largest oil exporter in Africa will sustain higher economic growth of 7.4 per cent recorded in 2010 by 2011. This figure is 0.4 per cent higher than the average of 7.0 per cent growth figure predicted for oil producing countries in sub-Sahara Africa.
The IMF said: â€œIn the regionâ€™s largest oil exporter, Nigeriaâ€™s continued strong growth in the non-oil sector is being supported by increasing oil production, a result of reduced instability in the Niger Delta region. Thus, Nigeriaâ€™s output growth is expected to accelerate from 7 per cent in 2009 to 7.4 per cent in both 2010 and 2011.â€
The 2010 figure of IMF is, however lower than the 7.68 per cent announced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently for the period January to June 2010.
The contribution of the ICT and oil sector is expected to boost the sustenance of economic growth barely a year after the amnesty deal was sealed with repentant militants in the Niger Delta. However, the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the gross domestic product (GDP) in the non-oil sector was below 5 per cent during the first six months of 2010 due to poor power supply by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
Also the report shows that 3.4 million beneficiaries from the agricultural sector were able to increase their income by about 64 per cent between 2004 and 2009 through access to better equipment. This is beside 385,000 borrowers and 1.2million customers that were able to access medium, small and micro-enterprise facilities.