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Nigeria Launches a Programme to Give Unemployed Youths Jobs

Nigeria has launched a much-delayed programme that promises to provide jobs for more than 750,000 young people amid worsening youth unemployment. The scheme, launched this month, is being hailed by government officials as the largest job creation initiative in the country’s history. The $136m Special Public Works (SPW) programme will target low-skilled workers. From October, it offers three-month job placements, paying $53 a month, which is less than the minimum wage of 30,000 naira, but a significant help in a country where so many young people are without work. Since 2015, the number of under 24-year-olds who are unemployed has almost tripled to 14 million, 40% of the youth labour force, according to Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics. About 83 million of Nigeria’s population of 200 million live on less than $1 a day. The SPW is one of a number of initiatives launched by the government to provide grants, loans or short-term jobs in an attempt to improve employment prospects. But the management and effectiveness of the SPW programme has been called into question. Critics have also said that short-term jobs, while offering much-need cash support and experience, do little to dent long-term unemployment and poverty.