Chris Steven, Abuja
The Federal Government has put the number of job seekers that enter the Nigerian labour market every year at not less than two million.
Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, disclosed this at the opening of a two-day international policy and private sector trade and investment facilitation forum in Abuja on Thursday.
Enelamah, who harped on the need to boost trade between countries to attract foreign direct investment, tasked West African region to leverage on its growing youthful population to create employment and ensure development.
His words: “In our region where we have a significant and ever increasing population this (trade and investment) need is even more urgent.
“Across the global economy enough jobs are not being created. In Nigeria alone approximately two million persons enter the job market annually and we believe there is abundance of opportunity which must be tapped,” the Minister said.
Declaring the forum open, which attracted major players in trade and investment from across the world, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, assured of government commitment to provide enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
Osinbajo attributed the recent World Bank ranking on ease of doing business which saw to Nigeria moving 24 places from 169 to 145 to the present administration efforts in promoting investment and trade through friendly policies.
He, however, harped on the need for African countries to promote trade and foreign direct investment instead of building their economies on commodity in order to sustain growth rate.
“Africa economies are doing better than ever before despite the difficult global economic environment. GDP growth rate average 2.3 percent in 2016, it is estimated to rise to 3.4percent this year and 4.3 percent in 2018, all above global averages.
“Last year, 12 African countries grew at above 5 percent and 20 countries between 3 and 5 percent. In order to demonstrate to that resource dependent is no longer the formula for growth but trade and investment, most of the best performing countries are the non-oil and the non-commodity dependent,” Osinbajo said.
Also speaking at the event, Roberto Azevedo, Director General of World Trade Organisation (WTO) tasked African countries to key into policies aimed at promoting trade and investment.
The WTO boss said trade and investment remains the most effective tool to fight poverty and ensure development.
The trade facilitation forum attracted President of ECOWAS (the co-host) Commission, Marcel Alain de Souza, Commissioner for Trade and Industry, African Union, Albert Muchanga, Secretary General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Mukhisa Kituyi.
Other present at the forum include officials from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, China, Pakistan, among others, including representatives from about 30 African countries.