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"Tech start-ups could provide employment for youth"
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"Tech start-ups could provide employment for youth"

Ayo MorakinyoTechnology start-up companies could offset youth unemployment that is growing at an estimated one million a year, writes Ayo Morakinyo, 26, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Nigeria, but entrepreneurs need infrastructure help at the government level.

Recent statistics on youth unemployment have shown that millions of young people in Nigeria are still unemployed and more than one million youth join this category every year.

According to fresh information from Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, no fewer than 1.8 million graduates move into the labour market annually. The minister gave this report recently while addressing delegates of the Arewa Youth Forum on issues of youth development in the Northern part of the country.

Though Nigerians always express doubts on the reliability of unemployment data generated by the National Bureau of Statistics, many young people say that the 1,800,000 figure seems factual. This is because millions of youth graduate from Nigerian institutions annually and only a few thousands are able to emigrate or pursue further studies overseas within the same year.

Most of those who stay to seek employment have to jump the hurdle of scarce opportunities by exercising considerable patience in the labour market, taking up underrated jobs or starting a small business. Notwithstanding these common options, the figure on youth unemployment is still massive and always increasing.

For instance, in March this year, the Nigeria Immigration Service conducted a graduate recruitment exercise that turned awry and revealed the reality of unemployment in Nigeria. According to the Minister of Interior, Comrade Patrick Abba Moro, 522,650 candidates applied for 4,556 available positions and 15 candidates lost their lives during the nationwide event. This means that the probability of each applicant getting a job through the recruitment exercise is minuscule and 518,094 candidates will not be employed. Yet, this is just one instance of the frustrations of job hunting in Nigeria as there are other instances that lead young people into seeking alternatives for self-sustenance.

However, the Nigerian government says it is making relentless efforts to provide resources to those who have business skills and are ready to opt for self-employment. Earlier on this year, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala stated that 1.6 million jobs have been created already through the Subsidy Re-investment & Empowerment Programme (SURE-P). But this figure is doubtful because many of the beneficiaries of the programme were already doing business before they received financial and mentorship support from the government’s SURE-P.

Lately, some young entrepreneurs were randomly surveyed in Nigeria to identify the practical obstacles to starting and running successful tech start-ups within and outside urban centres. The surveys showed that erratic power supply and relatively high cost of reliable internet service are among the common challenges affecting those tech start-ups. According to a male respondent living in Ibadan city, “You cannot work effectively as a techie person by depending on power from PHCN and you cannot depend on just one internet service provider if you want continuous connectivity. To secure these things, you need to spend monies that you haven’t made. But then, we are grateful to God that we are still here coping.”

Most tech start-up entrepreneurs agree that the Nigerian government could create more employment opportunities by simulating the structural models of Silicon Valley (USA) and Bangalore city (India). They believe that more techie youth would lift themselves out of the widening pool of unemployment if an enabling environment is created. Perhaps the Nigerian government should yield to the call of these youth.

photo credit: alles-schlumpf via photopin cc

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About me:

I am an animated and artistic writer hailing from the southwest region of Nigeria. I hold a degree in electronics and electrical engineering and am certified as an IT professional.

On days when I am not busy with engineering and management activities, I write prose poems, short stories and journalistic commentaries. In the coming years, I hope to help other people’s lives around the world and aid in the reformation of Africa.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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