Friday, June 14, 2024

Exploring the Impact of Government Investment in Infrastructure on Job Creation in Nigeria

By: Abdulmalik Adetola

Investment in Infrastructure plays a constitutive role in fostering the acceleration of the economy and creating job opportunities. Infrastructural development, most especially in sectors like transportation and communication, improved road networks, airports, seaports, and digital infrastructural services, which enhance connectivity within and between regions, are areas that will inevitably open up new market opportunities, attract investments, and promote trade, leading to job creation and economic growth in Nigeria. This article examines how the synergy of investing in infrastructure efficiently serves as a yielding mainframe towards proffering a substantial transformation of the economy and the creation of job opportunities in Nigeria.

Without any doubt, direct investment in infrastructure is capable of enhancing social and economically beneficial outcomes in terms of making available production facilities and at the same time generating employment opportunities for the people. According to the IMF, every $1 million of public spending on infrastructure creates 3–7 jobs in advanced economies, 10–17 jobs in emerging market economies, and 16–30 jobs in low-income developing countries. These numbers denote that investing in infrastructure in Nigeria will have a direct employment impact.

Inarguably, Infrastructure spending generates employment and income opportunities. By adopting labor-based techniques, employment can be generated directly during the building and upkeep of infrastructure. Potential areas for investments include healthcare, transportation, energy and power, water resources, and agriculture, amongst others. Just recently, the Airbus Marketing Director for Africa, Joep Ellers noted that air transportation has so far created about 241,000 jobs for Nigerians, with a breakdown of 20,000 direct jobs, 35,000 jobs from supply chain, 16,000 jobs from employee spending, and 169,000 jobs from tourism. This is a vital indication of how investment in air transportation alone has generated thousands of jobs.

Not only that, the growth of the Nigerian economy depends heavily on the energy sector. The investment in renewable energy plays a significant role in reducing poverty, boosting productivity, and providing job opportunities. It is estimated that the DRE sector, which includes pico-solar appliances, solar home systems (SHS), and commercial and industrial (C&I) standalone systems, currently employs 50,000 people compared to 65,000 in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector. Furthermore, according to a report, the number of Nigerians employed in the renewable energy sector will more than double by 2023 due to an increase in demand for solar energy.

Moreover, Investment in the agricultural sector has also proved to be effective in creating job opportunities.  Agriculture is currently the most significant employer of labor, giving over 23 million Nigerians a means of livelihood. It is recognized as a crucial policy instrument for attaining economic diversification and improved employment outcomes.  Even though the industry now employs over 23 million people, Jobberman’s study forecasts that over the next five years, jobs in five sub-sectors, including crops, livestock, fishing, forestry, and horticulture, could increase by 4.5 million.

In statistics released late last year, the overall unemployment rate was  33.3%, and the underemployment rate was 22.8%. For those between the ages of 15 and 34, the unemployment rate was 42.5%, while the underemployment rate was 21%. Urban unemployment was reported at 31.3%, whereas rural unemployment was reported at 34.5%. According to recent predictions from experts, particularly the international audit and tax consultancy firm KPMG, Nigeria’s unemployment rate will increase to 40.6% from 37.7% in 2023. According to the research, the unemployment rate would reach 43% in 2024. According to the agency, unemployment would remain a problem because of the slower-than-expected economic growth and the economy’s incapacity to accommodate the four to five million new workers that enter the Nigerian labor market each year. Though there has been a report of a recent plunge in the percentage of unemployed persons in Nigeria by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, it is hardly debatable that if adequate infrastructural investment policy is not formulated, there is a high statistical likelihood that this might not last long.

In lieu of this, effective infrastructural policies must be put in place to allow for more investment in domestic infrastructure projects that attain specified financial objectives while facilitating the development of essential infrastructure to vitalize the growth and diversification of the Nigerian economy, attract foreign investment, and create jobs for Nigerians

Infrastructure growth could be a comparative advantage to draw investors to a country like Nigeria with several surrounding emerging nations. Via the above data and reports, this article has explicitly explained the integral role played by infrastructural investment in Nigeria and how it is a catalyst towards gearing up the creation of job opportunities.  Building roads, water systems, and similar infrastructure projects produce jobs in the short term, however, investing in projects like public transit networks and electrical grids will keep employees employed over time and can increase productivity and create long-term employment for Nigerians. In this light, it is highly imperative to make policies that will effectively make way for investment, both inwardly and outwardly which will ultimately increase the number of job opportunities, in Nigeria.

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