19th April, 2019
The cover of Time magazine May 30, 1983, “The New Economy”, described the transition from manufacturing industries economy to technology/service based economy. The new economy has three strong components, idea, information, and communication. According to Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft,” The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.” The internet technology emerged as medium of distribution and information dissemination, the emergence of the internet changed the fundamentals of economic rules.
The 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, the CEO of IBM Ginni Rometty emphasized the importance of automation outpacing white and blue collar jobs. Great emphasis was laid on a term called “New Collar Jobs”, according to her,” When we talk of skill crisis, I really do believe 100% of jobs will change.” She also said,” We as a company are passionate that if we don’t fix this issue, to bridge this skill right now, at the rate it is moving, you will have unrest.” Nigeria is in skill crisis, in-demand skilled jobs are low and most of these jobs are taken by expatriate. We have more youths on the supply-side of labor market causing cyclical unemployment; graduates are produced yearly with degrees that can’t match in-demand jobs. The Unemployment rate in Nigeria is,there are more young people at the supply side of the labor market that can’t meet the in-demand skilled jobs.
The fourth industrial revolution gave birth to a new job lingo called “New Collar Job”, this is where underdeveloped and developing economies are going have a real challenge. Nigeria has a boisterous unemployment rate and a huge skill gap in the private sector. The civil service has operational deficiency, most of the jobs are compensation for party members based on political patronage, and the jobs are created based on political dogmatism, which suggests why institutional corruption is like a volcanic eruption that defies all policy emergencies. The easiest way to fight corruption is to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to curtail sharp practices and financial wastage. This is the era of new economy where machines are working with human beings for better efficiency.
The 2019’s election gave birth to a new president that has massive support from the masses. The economic hardship experienced today is caused by continuous policy somersault; the educational industry and the rural Nigeria lack a robust entrepreneurial education. America built the best education-entrepreneurship policy in the 70s, which gave birth to the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Steve Wozniack. The policy empowered undergraduates to experiment with ideas, which gave confidence to start-ups that became the biggest corporations this generation has ever experienced, Microsoft, Apple, and etc.
An article was published by CNBC on July 7, 2018, about fifteen most in-demand jobs in America, all the jobs are IT related. The hurdle for the government to jump is investing massively in IT/education and giving preference to building a strong digital rural Nigeria. The big difference between new collar job and white collar job is continuous training.
Nigeria has huge skill gap, the government has lots of work to do regarding youth empowerment. The loyalty scale President Buhari had in the last election with over 15 million votes, shows he has the people’s mandate. According to Brooking Institute based on World Poverty Clock findings on poverty FY2018, Nigeria has 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared to India with 73 million people. The primary cause was the crude-oil price slump of 2016 that led the Nigeria’s economy into recession, the unrest in the north-east added to the unemployment problems, terrorist attack of Boko Haram in the north since 2013 causing one of the largest internally displaced persons in Africa. The challenge facing the APC led government is pulling 87 million people out of poverty in 4years, formulating economic policies that create an enabling environment for the private sector and attracting huge foreign direct investment.
Technology is an enabler for better efficiency, the APC led government has to use technology to magnify operational efficiency. 75% of Nigeria labor force is in agriculture, 98% of our farmers are subsistence farmers residing in rural areas. The huge migration of young people out of rural to urban centers has increase feminization of agriculture in Nigeria. The private sector venturing into agriculture has introduced technology savvy tools to boost operational efficiency. The opportunity in the industry has attracted young urban educated Nigerians into agribusiness. Where the government needs to innovate is the rural area, this is where transformation is needed to position the economy on the path of recovery. The present success achieved is like feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fishes, for miraculous transformation in the rural area the government should invest in computing power, connectivity, artificial intelligence and machine learning, biotechnology, GIS, water resources for irrigation, transportation, healthcare and education.
The Government of Nigeria (GON) must learn from the Government of India (GOI).In 2016 NarendraModi’s emergence as the prime minister brought innovative policies into rural India, introducing policies that targeted poverty reduction, food security and climate change. The Government of Nigeria (GON) has to transform the unskilled mindset in the rural areas to skilled agricultural practices; mammoth poverty in Nigeria is in rural area. Technology could be an enabler for agricultural produce in the rural area, food inflation in the urban centers is caused by market disequilibrium, and technology can bridge the gap between Rural Nigeria (RN) and Urban Nigeria (UN). The Government of Nigeria needs to set up a parastatal directly under the presidency called Digital for Rural Nigeria(DRN), the function of this agency is training farmers in the rural area on how to use internet technology, smartphones, e- commerce/social media platforms to connect with buyers domestically and internationally. The government must ensure that the agency is not turned to bureaucratic deficiencies, for the agency to have thorough oversights, a bill must be sent to the parliament to empower the agency and its functions.
Nations have transformed their economies from third to first world economies; the Asian tigers, China, India, etc. The greatness of a nation lies in the determination of the people, Nigeria could be great if our present leaders learn from our founding fathers, and we have the history of greatness. Our founding fathers were great minds with scholastic explorations, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Nnamdi Azikwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Mrs Funmilayo Ransome-kuti; “The labor of our heroes past shall never be in vain.” God bless Nigeria.