Nigerian president urges inclusive growth for Africa

9 May 14
Nigeria’s president has warned that prosperity in Africa depends on inclusive growth strategies that create jobs.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in the Nigerian capital Abuja yesterday, Goodluck Jonathan, told delegates that the need to create jobs was a global problem, but in Africa the unemployment problem was compounded by the continent’s youthful population.

‘An additional 112 million workers will enter Africa’s labour force by 2020... This is daunting and should be a wake-up call to all of us in Africa to work harder on job creation with a great sense of urgency,’ Jonathan said.

Speaking alongside him was Li Keqiang, premier of the People’s Republic of China. He pledged China’s continuing cooperation to prioritise infrastructure development in Africa, in particular help to build a high-speed railway, a network of expressways and an aviation network.

Li said: ‘China will step up its investment and financing cooperation with Africa by providing an additional $10bn in credit to make its pledged line a total of $30bn. [We will add] another $2bn to make the China-Africa Development Fund a total of $5bn.’

The Chinese government would also provide Africa with $10m to protect its wildlife and biodiversity and promote sustainable development across the continent, he said.

John Rice, vice-chair at GE, Hong Kong, and co-chair of the World Economic Forum on Africa said, creating sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs was a ‘complicated transfer function’.

He said: ‘It starts with electricity, healthcare and clean water. Without this, you don’t have the human capital you need to create jobs.’

His fellow co-chair, Dominic Barton, global managing director at McKinsey & Company in the UK, argued that huge opportunities existed to create jobs in agri-business, healthcare, and infrastructure.

However, he said creating jobs for 120 million people over the next 10 years would also be a challenge.

‘We need more vocational training, we need welders, plumbers and nurses,’ Barton continued. ‘We need education for employment.’

Winifred Byanyima, executive director at Oxfam International, cautioned that, while ‘growth is good’, many people were being left behind.

‘This inequality is widening,’ she said.

‘Business is making money and paying almost nothing for it. It’s time business paid its fair share so money can go back where it is needed.’

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