With Nigeria’s unemployment rate at over 33 percent, the World Bank has said the country is going through its worst unemployment crisis as it urged the government to take advantage of the remittance inflows that could come from the migrations.
Nigeria’s remittance flow for 2020 had declined to $16.8 billion compared to $23.24 billion in 2019, according to a World Bank report. However the multilateral organisation noted that the cost of remittance had remained high hindering increased flow.
“Remittances from abroad are important for Nigeria’s development, and amounted to 5 percent of Nigeria’s GDP in 2019, but the cost of sending remittances to Nigeria has remained stubbornly high. Nigeria has made significant recent improvements to its managed migration framework and continues to draw on the support of stakeholders for policy making and implementation.
“Despite this, Nigeria does not have a single Bilateral Labour Agreement (BLA) to provide overseas employment opportunities to the growing number of youths in the country. In comparison, Nigeria’s peers such as Philippines, Bangladesh, and Indonesia have benefitted from having structured international labour mobility agreements with destination countries.”
A separate report, “Expanding Legal Migration Pathways from Nigeria to Europe: From Brain Drain to Brain Gain”, jointly produced with the Centre for Global Development (CGD), looked at the feasibility of establishing new migration partnerships to provide the growing number of youths in Nigeria with an opportunity for safe, regular, and orderly migration while catering to the needs of Nigeria’s labour market.
The World Bank, in a report entitled “Of Roads Less Travelled: Assessing the Potential for Migration to Provide Overseas Jobs for Nigeria’s Youth”, estimated that the number of asylum seekers from Nigeria had soared to 408,078 from 27,557 within 10 years.
The report, which expressed concern about the country’s rising unemployment situation, was published by the Washington-based institution with support from the Korea World Bank Partnership Facility (KWPF) and the Rapid Social Response (RSR) trust funds.
It blamed a combination of rising unemployment, booming demographics, and unfulfilled aspirations as resulting in increasing pressure on young Nigerians to migrate in search of gainful employment overseas.
Noting that the number of international migrants from Nigeria had increased threefold since 1990, growing from 446,806 in 1990 to 1,438,331 in 2019, it said despite this trend, the share of international migrants as a proportion to Nigeria’s population has remained largely constant, increasingly slightly from 0.5 per cent in 1990 to 0.7 per cent in 2019.
According to the bank, the recent rise in irregular migration notwithstanding, the share of international migrants in Nigeria’s population was much lower compared to the shares in Sub-Saharan Africa and globally.
The data showed that the number had risen by over 1,380 per cent in the years between 2010 and 2019, indicating that in comparison, the number of persons coming into Nigeria from outside has been relatively stagnant in the decade under consideration.
“An important trend that is observed in the data is the rise in the number of refugees and asylum seekers from Nigeria. The share of refugees and asylum seekers from Nigeria has increased drastically in the last decade, growing from 27,557 in 2010 to 408,078 in 2019.
“Nearly all Nigerian asylum seekers had been living in the Southern part of the country before migrating, and 84 percent of those for whom information was available had been in the South-South region where 17 percent of Nigerians are to be found, and a high concentration of asylum seekers are from Benin City. It may be that social networks there facilitate migration, or it could relate to smuggling or human trafficking networks.
“Nigeria is facing one of the most acute jobless crises in recent times. Between 2014 and 2020, Nigeria’s working age population grew from 102 million to 122 million, growing at an average rate of approximately 3 percent per year.
“Similarly, Nigeria’s active labour force population, that is, those willing and able to work among the working age population, grew from 73 million in 2014 to 90 million in 2018, adding 17.5 million new entrants to Nigeria’s active labour force.
“Since 2018, however, the active labour force population has dramatically decreased to around 70 million—lower than the level in 2014— while the number of Nigerians who are in the working-age population but not active in the labour force has increased from 29 million to 52 million between 2014 and 2020.
The expanding working-age population combined with scarce domestic employment opportunities is creating high rates of unemployment, particularly for Nigeria’s youth,” the World Bank report noted.
However, between 2010 and 2020, the international financial institution estimated that the unemployment rate rose five-fold, from 6.4 per cent in 2010 to 33.3 percent in 2020, with the rates being particularly acute since the 2015/2016 economic recession and further worsened as COVID-19 led to the worst recession in four decades in 2020.
To address these challenges, the World Bank in the report suggests that multilateral organisations such as itself could support these partnerships by leveraging the knowledge generation potential and conducting foundational analysis to understand the full range of possibilities.
They could also support capacity building activities to improve migration systems in countries of origin such as Nigeria, as well as financing and evaluating pilots on migration partnerships to provide “proof of concept”.