Job creation as panacea to Africa’s socio-economic transformation
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In today’s globalised world, economic growth does not happen in isolation, as such the current gale of forced migration is a pointer that crisis anywhere could mean chaos everywhere.
Indeed, social partners in the labour force have canvassed the need for Africans to owe themselves the duty of pulling together by the bootstraps and attending to the work of creating sustainable jobs and meaningful living for its people.
They argued that job creation must be taken down from PowerPoint presentations in summits, and taken to the corridors of effective public policy making to achieve the streets of industrialisation, healthy trade conditions, progressive and productive tax regimes, and an informal sector fully organised for the genuine transition to the formal economy.
Acknowledging the fact that jobs are needed globally, however, in Africa the need for plenty of new jobs was emphasized, as jobs would not happen by happenstance.
At a two-day 6th Africa Social Partners’ Summit on job creation in Africa, President of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Ayuba Wabba, who noted that job generation is a reward for economic growth, said the economy could only grow with the increase in purchasing power.
The summit was organised by the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), hosted by the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), with the support of the European Union (EU), in Lagos,
According to him, the wages of workers underlined the purchasing power in any clime, as it is a major driver for productivity and growth.
Wabba, who spoke on the theme, “Towards the Social Economic Transformation of Africa Through Job Creation,” maintained that wages in Africa are the poorest around the world, stressing that for a continent that is endowed with enormous mineral and human resource, “this is totally unacceptable.
“It is sad that while other regions have deservedly elevated the wage discourse to decent and living wages, many African governments and employers still see minimum wage as some sort of lottery for workers. Workers all over Africa demand for wage justice.”
Wabba, who is also the President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said to create sustainable jobs for Africa’s teeming youth, African governments must create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“We call on our governments to fix and expand existing infrastructure especially roads, rails, and electricity which are critical for industrialisation.
“While we support government initiatives on the ease of doing business, we must build the infrastructure for the future we desire. If we reduce the high incidence of official corruption, there will be enough funds to fund economic growth and bring about shared prosperity.
“Whatever we do, we must ensure that the quantum leap in the human population in Africa must not lag behind proactive visioning and action by government. We must plan and act like tomorrow is already here because Africa’s tomorrow is already at the door heavily pregnant,” he said.
ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa, Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, said for Africa to achieve the needed transformation, there is the need for a major shift and crucial role by social partners in fostering the initiative, with targeted policies to ensure economic growth, which translates into better welfare.
With 2020 Economic Outlook published recently by the African Development Bank, which reported that economic growth will pick up to 3.9 per cent by the end of this year, and would reach 4.1 per cent in 2021, Samuel-Olonjuwon said Africa’s economic growth is strengthening.
However, despite the good news, she said many people have failed to escape poverty even in the best times of economic growth.
“While this points to the structure of our economics, it also means more targeted policies are needed to ensure economic growth translates into welfare.”
Urging that the political space must allow for job creation through the absence of conflicts, she said: “ It is in the light of this that the ILO fervently supports the African Union’s ‘Silencing the guns’ initiative in 2020, that aims to end all wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence, violet conflict and prevent genocide in the continent.
Recalling the “Abidjan Declaration 2019 on Advancing Social Justice: Shaping the future of work in Africa,” focused on the framework for promoting a human-centred approach to the future of work in Africa, she noted that the declaration recognises that addressing Africa’s development challenges required accelerating structural transformation, gains in productivity, improving domestic resource mobilisation and public investments.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who noted that unemployment, underemployment and poverty are critical challenges that require concerted efforts by all stakeholders to address successfully, said the Nigerian government is currently working tirelessly with African leaders to address the intractable challenges comprehensively and holistically through well-targeted interventions.
He urged government at all levels, employers and workers organisations to be actively involved in preparing the African work force for the future of work.
For Africa to move to the next level, and be lifted out of poverty cycle, Executive Director, Federation of Kenya Employers, Jacqueline Mugo, stressed the involvement of social partners in the implementation of the AU led-Agenda 2063 pillars through their input on policy inclusivity, and coherence towards a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
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