Through the years, Michael Ejekam has had a hand in the development of several malls throughout Nigeria and Africa as a whole. These retail spaces aren’t just a sign of a growing economy, or even of improving lifestyles for people. For Nigeria’s unemployed young workers, they may be a sign of hope. This Michael Ejekam blog explores the unemployment issue in Nigeria and how retail just might be a key piece in solving it.
A “Society in Danger of Destruction”
Not too long ago, the president and CEO of Dangote Group in Nigeria used that phrase to describe the difficult employment situation. Aliko Dangote spoke out about the dangers associated with unemployment in a 2015 editorial, which served as an open letter to the Buhari administration. Referring to youth unemployment (up to age 34) as “the monster that has kept our teeming youths on the fringes of human existence,” he called for the administration to “slay” it. “Our entire society is in danger of destruction unless we pay attention to this huge segment of our young and jobless global population,” he added. Around that time, youth unemployment rested around 50%, an astounding level that no doubt contributed to countless other issues throughout the country.
Retail Could Help Break the Cycle
Naturally, as the population grows, so, too, does the unemployment rate. The good news is, retail could play key role in reducing youth unemployment throughout the country. Broll Nigeria recently held a roundtable discussion called “Retail Industry: 10 Years from Now,” and the industry experts concluded that retail could be the biggest employer of youths in the coming years. Bolaji Edu, CEO of Broll Nigeria, offered further insights into the industry. “Despite a challenging environment,” he said, “Nigeria still holds promise for investors who are willing to take a long-term approach on investments.” However, the government will play a large role in whether retail continues to expand and create jobs. “The outlook for the retail sector is largely dependent on economic reforms as well as the lifting of foreign exchange restrictions,” Edu added.
So, although retail may not be a magic bullet that slays the beast, it very much could be with the right governmental procedures and policies in place. This would not only impact the Nigerian youths of today, but will build for a better future for the country overall.
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