No doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic, infrastructural deficit, insecurity, amongst other social-economic challenges have continued to mar Nigeria’s quest for sustainable development with the latest International Monetary Fund IV report recommending that the country needs to create 5 million jobs annually for the next 10 years to cover its unemployment gap.
Nigeria’s unemployment rate has continued to increase over a decade as the latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the unemployment rate rose from 23.1 percent in the third quarter of 2018 to 27.1 percent in the second quarter of 2020.
Part of the IMF Article IV report on Nigeria reads: “Nigeria will need to create at least 5 million new jobs each year compared to nearly 2 million job losses each year on average in the last five years”.
While suggesting possible ways the country can overcome unemployment, the financial body tasked the Nigerian government to unlock the potential of the AfCFTA.
It noted that: “Keeping borders open, while stepping up measures to address security concerns including smuggling, is not only critical to ensuring the flow of goods and services that enables price stability and growth but is expected to have a positive signaling effect on the business environment in Nigeria.
“Implementing trade enabling reforms, such as speeding up customs clearing time, and removing regulatory bottlenecks, are key to improving Nigeria’s international competitiveness,” IMF said.
The African Continental Free Trade Area, which came into effect 1 January, it’s expected to serve as a framework for the region’s economic recovery. The zone aims to connect 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion.
Most of the AfCFTA’s income gains are likely to come from trade-facilitation measures that reduce red tape and simplify customs procedures.
The International body further welcomed the idea of higher growth relying more on labour-intensive manufacturing, light manufacturing, and agro-processing; calling on the Nigerian government to embrace more open trade and good policies to rejuvenate growth.