Calestous Juma on infrastructure growth in Nigeria

Roads and Rail in Nigeria Could Be at the Centre of Job Creation
The Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog
January 24, 2012
Commentary by: Calestous Juma, director of the Center’s Science, Technology, and Globalization Project; principal investigator, Agricultural Innovation in Africa; member of the Belfer Center Board of Directors
Topic: Infrastructure growth in Nigeria

Africa‘s youth unemployment is widely recognised as a potential source of political instability. However, most of the policy proposals for addressing joblessness focus largely on stand-alone skill development efforts. They fail to recognise infrastructure as the motherboard of job creation.

The International Labour Organisation, for example, has rightly called for urgent measures to address skills mismatches, including workplace, entrepreneurship and life skills training programmes. But it has largely downplayed the strategic role that critical infrastructure projects can play.

Africa’s emerging focus on infrastructure offers a unique opportunity for the continent to adopt novel approaches to employment generation and skills development.

Take the case of Nigeria. According to World Bank estimates, Nigeria’s vision to become a middle-income country by 2020 will require sustained investment in infrastructure — almost $14.2bn a year over the next decade, about 12% of GDP. Today, the country invests $5.9bn per year, 5% of GDP.”

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