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e-Commerce can provide 23m jobs, boost economy

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e-Commerce

If well explored, the electronic commerce (e-Commerce) sub-sector of the economy is capable of creating about 23 million jobs.

An economist, Dr. Hassan Kuja, who made the projection, based this on the opportunities the sub-sector can avail.

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According to him, Nigeria is currently mired in the throes of a worsening unemployment tide, the profile, which currently stands at about 33.3 per cent.

Kuja, who is based in Taraba, said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report, released on March 15, makes for grim reading. This, he said, showed that Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose from 27.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 to 33.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020.

In layman’s terms, Kuja said the foregoing translates to about 23.19 million unemployed people and this does not take into account millions of underemployed Nigerians.

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Part of the NBS report, according to him, reads: “During the reference period, the computed national unemployment rate rose from 27.1 per cent in Q2, 2020 to 33.3 per cent in Q4, 2020, while the underemployment rate decreased from 28.6 per cent to 22.8 per cent. A combination of both the unemployment and underemployment rate for the reference period gave a figure of 56.1 per cent.

“This means that 33.3 per cent of the labour force in Nigeria or 23,187,389 persons either did nothing or worked for less than 20 hours a week; making them unemployed by our definition in Nigeria. This is an additional 1,422,772 persons from the number in that category in Q2, 2020. Using the international definition of unemployment, the rate was computed to be 17.5 per cent.”

He said Nigeria now boasts of the unenviable status of being the country with the second-highest unemployment rate in the world, second only to the fellow African country, Namibia, which has the world’s highest unemployment statistic with 33.4 per cent. In achieving this unwanted feat, Nigeria recently surpassed South Africa on a list of 82 countries whose unemployment rates are tracked by Bloomberg.

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According to him, the situation seems to be headed for an even more worrisome trajectory, with the nation’s fast growing population expected to see Nigeria become the third most populous country in the world by 2050, with over 300 million people.

This is according to projections by the United Nations. He said economists and other experts expect Nigeria’s unemployment profile to soon overtake that of Namibia and become the world’s highest. The prediction is premised on the fact that more people are expected to join the labour market as population growth continues to outpace output expansion in Nigeria and as more graduates join the list of those eligible to work.

According to him, the foregoing calls to mind the yet-untapped potentialities of the e-Commerce sector in reversing Nigeria’s disastrous unemployment profile and specifically, the laudable efforts of a company like Konga, a Nigerian-owned player, which has defied a myriad of hurdles and challenges that come with operating in difficult terrain like Nigeria.

“I visualize a company like Konga to be possibly the largest employer of quality human capital in Nigeria with the next five years and maybe the highest single taxpayer if given a chance to survive by the government during this incubation period. Things have changed globally and our government and policymakers must pay attention and support companies like Konga that shall alter the destiny of Nigerians in the very near future. It is clear the current owners have shown in a short period that they are not infants and have the required passion and capacity in the marketplace. Let me use Konga to explain the new economy,” he stated.

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In Konga, Kuja said Nigeria has a gem that has provided a lifeline for many families and still continues to create a host of employment opportunities, despite building up its own infrastructure and with little or no institutional support.

He said having taken a critical look at the Nigerian e-Commerce sector in the course of his academic thesis, he remains convinced that if Nigeria had at least three other entities as dedicated to the empowerment of the Nigerian youth as Konga, “we would be telling a different story in terms of our current unemployment nightmare for our brilliant youth population.”

Kuja informed that Konga runs a fusion of online and offline retail, which has delivered so much value to Nigerians, employment-wise. He said the management of the company, which came under new ownership in 2018, has hardly hidden its desire to saturate every nook and cranny of Nigeria with its presence, by citing at least one Konga store in each local government in the country.

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“Going by the current number of local governments in Nigeria, we are looking at a whopping 774 physical stores – a very ambitious project by any stretch of the imagination,’ he stated.

He is worried that the Federal Government of Nigeria, and the Chief Executives of various state governments, have not for once considered partnering with Konga even for the selfish interest of empowering citizens of their own states.

“Despite being an economist, I take an avid interest in e-Commerce, which remains, in my opinion, a futuristic sector that has the capacity to bring Nigeria shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of the advanced world. However, a deep understanding of the immense economic power of e-Commerce, lacking as it is, on the part of political office holders in Nigeria, is one of the major leadership deficits we endure here,” he stated.

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